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Release: March 29, 1999

Leading science studies scholar to visit UI to celebrate LSA 50th anniversary

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA) Program will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a weeklong visit by a distinguished interdisciplinary scholar, Steven Shapin, a professor of sociology, history, and science studies at the University of California at San Diego. Shapin will be an Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor and will give two public lectures as well as meet with students and faculty during the week of April 5.

Jon Ringen, chair of the LSA Program, said he is excited about Shapin's visit because he is a scholar whose work "exemplifies the bridge between humanities and the sciences." That type of connection has been the foundation for the LSA interdisciplinary curriculum since it was first offered at the UI in the 1948-49 academic year.

"It's very appropriate for us to mark this occasion of our 50th anniversary with a visit from a leading scholar whose work embodies the core of the LSA mission," Ringen said. "This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to see how their interdisciplinary studies fit into the larger body of research and scholarship."

Shapin is a leading social historian of the scientific revolution and one of the most influential and widely respected figures in the interdisciplinary field of science studies. He has written that "scientists are the most effective critics of science," but defends critical study of the development and use of science as an essential part of liberal education for scientists and non-scientists alike.

One of the issues that has recently moved to the forefront of science studies is the relationship between science/technology and the cultures in which it is present. Shapin will present two public lectures related to this topic. On April 6, at 8 p.m. Shapin will give a lecture titled "Descartes the Doctor: Rationalism and Its Therapies," in which he will discuss how Decartes' 17th century views about science and medical practice might shed light on improving the practice of contemporary medicine. This presentation will take place in Lecture Room 1 Van Allen Hall.

Shapin's second public lecture, Friday, April 9, at 4 p.m. will detail the role that the public's understanding of science played in a 10-year scientific misconduct case that ended in the acquittal of Therazi Imanishi-Kari on charges arising from a paper co-authored with renowned scientist David Baltimore. "Molecular Morals: Sociological Reflections on the Baltimore Case," will take place in Room 201 Biology Building.

On Wednesday, April 7 Shapin will lead a discussion of his paper "How to be Anti-Scientific," which details his reflections on the science wars, at 7:30 p.m. in Brewery Square, 123 N. Linn Street.

All lectures and discussions are free and open to the public. For further information about these program or other events on Shapin's itinerary for the week, contact the LSA program office at (319) 335-0327 or check the LSA web-site

Shapin's visit to the UI is supported by the Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships Program, which brings outstanding scholars to the UI campus for residencies ranging from a few days to an entire academic year. A native of Vinton, Beam willed her farm to the UI in 1977. Her only university connection was a relative who graduated from the College of Medicine. Proceeds from the sale of the farm were used to establish the visiting professorships program in her name. Since 1977, hundreds of eminent scholars and scientists have visited the UI campus to give public lectures and to meet with students and faculty.