Author Archive for Caroline Surman

Conference Reports and Videos Now Available for “The Success of Failure”

The Center for Science and Society, along with its co-sponsors – Heyman Center for the Humanities, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policyand Teachers College – are proud to present the event reports and session recordings from “The Success of Failure: Perspectives from the Arts, Sciences, Humanities, Education, and Law” conference, held December 7-8, 2017.

“The Success of Failure” explored the broad typology of failure across disciplines by offering perspectives from law, psychology, tech startups, education, experimental theater, and jazz music – just to name a few. Each field discussed its own struggles and solutions as participants and audience members grappled with the central question: How do we reconcile the contradictions of success and failure?

Visit the Success of Failure Past Event Information Page to view a session-by-session report, an executive summary, and event program. Video recordings of select sessions can also be found on the Center for Science and Society’s YouTube channel.

Digital Launch of The Sphaera Project’s Website

The Sphaera Project at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin is pleased to present its new website and online database. Led by Senior Research Fellow and Research Group Leader Matteo Valleriani, the team examines knowledge system evolution and shared scientific identity by studying Johannes de Sacrobosco’s 13th-century text,  De sphaera. His handwritten treatise covered geocentric cosmology through “simple, late medieval description…based on the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic worldviews,” becoming mandatory reading in European universities for centuries.

Developed by Florian Kräutli, the open access database allows researchers and members of the public alike explore the bibliographic data of 320 books that contain, or are related to, the text by Sacrobosco. The system covers books published between 1472 and 1650. Additional works and records will be added to the collection shortly.


Making and Knowing Project Co-Organizes Symposium in Toulouse, France

The Making and Knowing Project (a Center for Science and Society Research Cluster directed by Seth Low Professor of History Pamela Smith) has co-organized and will participate in the symposium “Du Manuscrit au Livre. L’écriture des Savoir-Faire à la Renaissance” (From the Manuscript to the Book: The Writing of How-To in the Renaissance) to be held March 15 – 17, 2018 in Toulouse, France.

The symposium will open the Toulouse Renaissance exhibit, an examination of the city’s cultural landscape during the Renaissance period. The exhibit will be on display in Toulouse at the Musée des Augustins from March 17 – September 24, 2018 and at the Bibliothèque d’Étude et du Patrimoine from March 17 – June 16, 2018.

The exhibition includes objects created by the Project as part of their research on the sixteenth-century French technical manuscript, BnF Ms. Fr. 640, compiled in Toulouse. The manuscript itself will also be on display.

Center for New Narratives in Philosophy Volunteering Opportunities

The Center for New Narratives in Philosophy (CNNP) at the Center for Science and Society is excited to announce new volunteer opportunities and resources.

On February 25, 2018, CNNP hosted “The Pedagogy of Dignity: Teaching in Prisons” workshop supported by the Marc Sanders Foundation. After a day of panels and collaborative discussions with formerly incarcerated students and friends, activists, professors, graduate and undergraduate students, many participants were interested in volunteering further. This workshop also celebrated the launch of CNNP’s Rethinking Justice Initiative (website forthcoming).

Cluster Leader Christia Mercer suggests the following programs for those interested in criminal justice reform:

— Individuals 21 or older (or will be soon) are eligible to teach in the Rethinking Justice Initiative’s Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center Mini-Course program. Fill out the Teaching in Prison Interest Form for more information.

— For those who are unable to participate in the above teaching program, Easing Reentry (ER) is a Columbia University, student-led initiative that connects skilled volunteers with people returning home from jail and prison. Complete the Easy Reentry Interest Form for more information.

Project Pro Bono has a variety of volunteering opportunities located across the country.

Cluster Leader Christia Mercer’s Op-Ed Published By NBC News

Christia Mercer’s (Gustave M. Berne Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University) op-ed piece on the value of prison literary programming has been published by NBC News. The column “Reading Gives People in Prison Hope. But Some States Want to Take Their Books Away” draws on Professor Mercer’s experiences teaching at New York correctional facilities as part of the Justice-In-Education Initiative at Columbia University.

Professor Mercer is a member of the Center for Science and Society’s Steering Committee and leads the Center for New Narratives in Philosophy Research Cluster.


Call for Proposals: The Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University

The Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University (CSSD) brings together faculty in humanities, law, social sciences, medicine and the arts, as well as artists and practitioners in the New York area and beyond, to investigate problems of social, economic, and cultural inequality. The Center’s working groups challenge the disciplinary divides among the humanities, the arts, and the social sciences by asking not only how historical categories of social difference intersect on the level of identity, but also how these categories shape institutions, modes of knowing, acts of representation, and processes of globalization. The Center creates the conditions for scholars, artists and practitioners to work collaboratively and internationally on problems of common interest and to set intellectual agendas for the future.

The Center welcomes proposals for a new project that would begin in Fall 2018 or Fall 2019. Funding is in the amount of $35,000 over two years with the possibility of $15,000 for a third year, contingent on working group interest and the availability of Center funds. CSSD seeks projects that align with the mission of “Women Creating Change” or “Imagining Justice” and favors proposals from an interdisciplinary core working group (usually 5-8 people, not all of whom need be affiliated with Columbia or Barnard). The Center encourages and facilitates international collaborations.

Proposals should be submitted by February 1, 2018 at 11:59PM to CSSD Associate Director Catherine LaSota ( For more information and to apply, please visit the CSSD website.

Job Opportunity: Postdoctoral Associate, The Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics at Yale University

The Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics at Yale University seeks a person with interest and expertise in Economics and History for a postdoctoral position. The appointment will begin in July of 2018 and continue until June of 2019. The primary duties of the postdoctoral associate will be to research and write a history of the Cowles Foundation and its relationship to the discipline of Economics. In doing so, the researcher will draw upon published materials, the Cowles archives, and archival materials at other locations. Under appropriate circumstances, the Cowles Foundation will support the publication of the results of the research by a major university press. The position will include a competitive salary and benefits as well as research funds.

Yale University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Yale values diversity among its students, staff, and faculty and strongly welcomes applications from women, persons with disabilities, protected veterans and underrepresented minorities.

We will begin to review applications in December with a decision to be made early in the spring semester. Please visit Econ Job Market for more information and to apply. 

Call for Applications: 2018 Center for Science and Society Seed Grants

Eligibility: All full-time junior faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students at Columbia University and Barnard College

Amount of Award: $1,500 – $3,000

Deadline: Friday, February 23, 2018

The Center for Science and Society at Columbia University (CSS) invites proposals for innovative interdisciplinary projects involving the study of science in society that require modest amounts of seed money to initiate collaborative research and programming. All full-time junior faculty, students, and postdocs at Columbia University and Barnard College are eligible to apply, and proposals are welcomed especially from undergraduate and graduate students. Projects might include small research projects, support for a reading group, inviting a speaker, or a contribution to mounting a conference. Collaborative projects that involve participants from different disciplines (including professors and students of any rank and from any school at Columbia and Barnard) are encouraged. Grants can be combined with any other funding held by the applicants.  Awards will normally be in the range of $1,500-$3,000. Projects must be completed and funds expended by July 1, 2019.

View past Seed Grant Awards here.

Submitting Proposals
To apply, please submit the following as a single PDF document by 5:00 p.m. EST on Friday, February 23, 2018 to Roshana Nabi, CSS Project Manager ( with “Seed Grants for Interdisciplinary Projects in Science and Society” in the subject line of the email:

  • Cover page, including title of proposal, principal investigator(s) and departmental affiliations, an executive summary of the project, and the total funding amount sought
  • Proposal narrative with timeline of research (no more than 3 pages in 12-point font)
  • Itemized projected budget
  • CVs for each investigator

Conditions of Receipt
Grant recipients must provide annual reports on project activities, including updates on external funding proposals (successful or unsuccessful), and any papers, publications, course syllabi, and/or reports resulting from seed grant activities. When applicable, research projects involving human subjects and/or animals must obtain (and keep current) approval from the appropriate University regulatory offices.

For more information, please contact CSS Project Manager Roshana Nabi at

Call for Applications: Graduate Student Rapporteur for 2-Day Conference

The Center for Science and Society at Columbia University aims to create a new paradigm of collaborative inquiry between the natural and social sciences and the humanities. The Center fosters new perspectives and innovative scholarship and aims to further public understanding of complex questions. 

On December 7-8, 2017, the Center and its partners will host The Success of Failure: Perspectives from the Arts, Sciences, Humanities, Education, and Law. This symposium will bring speakers and practitioners from around the world and within the Columbia University community together to investigate the role and value of failure across disciplines. For more information, including the program and speaker list, please visit the event webpage.

The Center is looking to appoint a graduate student as the conference’s rapporteur. Responsibilities will include:

  • Attend all conference sessions (two full days)
  • Take detailed notes for each session
  • Produce a final report, which will include a conference summary and session-by-session accounts. Examples of past reports can be found on the Center’s website.

The time commitment will be approximately 25 hours, with roughly 15 hours performed on-site at the event. The final report should be submitted by December 31, 2017. Applicants must be full-time graduate students at Columbia University or Teachers College and will receive a compensation of $20/hr. 

To apply, please send your CV to Caroline Surman, Project Assistant with the Center for Science and Society at Applications will be reviewed immediately but must be submitted by November 30th. 

Launch of Online Publication, “Medical and Health Humanities”

Medical and Health Humanities has officially launched its online publication, which features 22 regular writers and guest contributors from across the country and around the world.

Medical and Health Humanities was founded in 2017 by Arden Hegele, a literary scholar, and Rishi Goyal, a physician. Their mission is to develop conversations among diverse people thinking about medical and humanistic ways of knowing. The publication covers anything that connects medicine with the humanities—critical reading, looking, listening. Interests are wide-ranging: historical précis, new takes on books, investigations into cognition and imagination, and, of course, medical practice. Interested writers can pitch individual articles. For more information, please click here.

The website also features detailed summaries from previous lectures in the Exploration in the Medical Humanities series, which is co-sponsored by the Center for Science and Society.

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