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Graduate Student Working Groups

Natura: Science and Epistemology

This working group serves as a forum designed to foster critical interdisciplinary conversations about history, cultures, places, and theories of science, epistemology, and knowledge production.

Students researching the history of science, epistemology, and the ontologies, tools, and practices of knowledge production inevitably engage in interdisciplinary work. The Rutgers interdisciplinary graduate working group Natura, now in its fifth year, offers an interdisciplinary forum that interrogates these topics from the perspective of students' research projects. Such discussion across different fields of study grants young scholars opportunities to engage in meaningful cross-disciplinary criticism and analysis which enriches both the theory and methods of their research.

Natura provides a forum for students to interrogate specifically the study of science and epistemology across the humanities and the sciences. The working group considers various topics of importance within Science and Technology Studies and Philosophies and Sociologies of Science, including but not limited to literary, historical, critical, and philosophical engagements with science and scientist practices across a broad historical span, from the medieval period through the sixteenth-century and into the present, and between different cultures, places, spaces, and species. Appropriate research examines the relationships between science, objects of study, epistemology, ontology, and theories of practice. The group considers how the development and production of scientific knowledge across global networks continues to transform our world and constitutes objective knowledge and fact. While Natura's focus may be on Anglo-European knowledge communities, the working group seeks to understand them alongside developing epistemologies and ontologies across the globe. Thus Natura is also committed to indigenous, alternative, subaltern, and emerging epistemologies and ontologies from multiple cultures and traditions. The working group welcomes work that engages with critical theoretical perspectives such as feminism, decolonial theory, post-colonial theory, Actor Network Theory, affect theory, and posthumanism.

Natura helps students develop their research projects by critically exploring various methodologies and theoretical frameworks of inquiry and also, more practically, provides a space to discuss and revise their ongoing work. It also fosters a community for STS discussion within the university, and allows members of the working group to engage with leading scholars in their fields of interest.

Natura is generously supported by the Rutgers British Studies Center (RBSC); the Science, Technology, Environment and Health (STEH) program; and by the Rutgers Graduate Student Association (GSA).

Organized by (in alphabetical order):  Danielle Allor (English), Andrea Gaytan (Spanish), Jenny R. Isaacs (Geography), Moyang Li (English), and Maxwell Sater (English).

The working group is active for the 2015-2016 academic year. We conduct the following activities:
Reading Group and Internal Workshops: The working group serves as a forum for the students' development of their own research, providing them with new theoretical frameworks and helping them revise their writing. Members create ongoing reading groups based on topics drawn from the interests of the group. Each semester, Natura also workshops a dissertation chapter or a work-in-progress that a member is revising for publication.
Invited Lectures and Workshops: Each semester, the group invites speakers from many different disciplines, either for a lecture or to workshop a pre-circulated paper, in order to explore the diverse range of approaches to the study of science. The two different formats enable students in the working group to engage with the work of established scholars at different stages of completion.
Graduate Student Conference: Natura plans a yearly graduate student conference developed around the interests of current members of the working group. In addition to a prominent keynote speaker, it features organized graduate student panels, with participants from different disciplines both inside and outside Rutgers.

Natura has planned out the following activities for 2015-2016:
Friday, September 11: Introductory Meeting.
Friday, October 23: Interdisciplinary Faculty Roundtable. Natura's roundtable and reception will feature presentations by four Rutgers faculty doing interdisciplinary work.
Friday, March 25: Natura hosts our fifth annual conference!

Click the links below to view previous years' conferences:
2014-2015: Envisioning Science
2013-2014: Scientific (R)evolutions
2012-2013: Science Fiction & Fictions in Science

For more information contact Natura Secretary Moyang Li, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please visit the Natura dedicated website and Facebook Page:

Thank you for your interest,
Natura Working Group
Rutgers University

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