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Radio 4 goes STS?

By Jon Agar, on 23 May 2009

Intriguing announcement at the top of the new series of BBC Radio 4’s Leading Edge broadcast on thursday 21st May:


“We’ve performed a bit of alchemy. For the past decade this programme’s principal concern has been with the products of science with its findings whether a freshly disinterred fossil, or a distant galaxy, a recent observation or a new theory. Starting this week we are shifting the focus from the findings themselves to the process by which they are found. Instead of treating science as an accumulating mountain of facts we will look at the who, the why, the what and the how. Who does the work? Why is it done? And how scientists operate as people who are more than the sum of their scientific publications”


Well that sounds like STS to me. It’s great to hear, of course. But what has prompted the change in direction, and why?


The first episode centred on a long interview with the government’s chief scientific advisor, John Beddington. It will be interesting to see where the programme goes next…

3 Responses to “Radio 4 goes STS?”

  • 1
    Links from around « Evolving Thoughts wrote on 24 May 2009:

    […] According to the STS Observatory, the BBC’s Radio 4 Program[me] Leading Edge is taking on a more sociological and historical aspect in its reportage: […]

  • 2
    Alice Bell wrote on 27 May 2009:

    Surely this is just indicative of the way in which the contemporary science communication profession at least pays lip service to STS? One of the research/ editorial team might well even have training in the subject.

    STS gets used to thinking of itself as terribly marginal but its gained a lot of power in the last few decades and, at least on the surface, a lot of its ideas and stories are incredibly appealing to many working in professional science communication and policy (though, arguably, this amounts to little more than simply adopting an STS-lite vocabulary).

    I assume you know about the CBC ‘How to Think About Science’ shows? (podcasted – http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/features/science/index.html) – though perahps they conflated STS with marginal science, and took a rather didactic approach to the whole subject…

  • 3
    admin wrote on 28 May 2009:

    Yes, the CBC series is excellent. Recommended to anyone who wants to find out about our subject. I’ve emailed the Leading Edge team, but have had no reply so far.