Colloquium & Events

The STS Graduate Program at UBC draws on a rich set of resources at UBC, in Vancouver, and at our sister universities, Simon Fraser University and the University of Washington

STS Colloquium Schedule



27 September 2022, 6:00-7:30 pm, Frederic Wood Theatre.

Dr. Kim Tallbear (University of Alberta), Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience, and Society.

The Biannual Hawthorn Lecture: “Close Encounters of the Colonial Kind”

The event is organized by the UBC Department of Anthropology. Because of its relevance, we included it in our list to make sure graduate students in STS will not miss it. Please note that registration is required to attend the lecture and the reception that starts at 5:00 pm. Without wasting time and to guarantee yourself a spot, please visit to RSVP:


13 October 2022, 5:00-6:30 pm, Buchanan Tower 1112

Inkeri Koskinen (University of Helsinki, Academy of Finland Research Fellow in Practical philosophy), visiting post-doctoral fellow at UBC

“Objectivity, Trust, and Reliance”

Can the notion and the normative ideal of objectivity be salvaged? It has faced harsh criticism from philosophers of science, and those who have defended it identify a great many different meanings of objectivity; it is not only contested, but also extremely complex conceptually. Some suggest that we should simply abandon it, but it is widely used in public discourse and often cited as one of the main reasons for according science an epistemically authoritative position. The aim of my 5-year project is to provide a satisfactory understanding of what it means for something to be objective.


15 November 2022, 5:00-6:30 pm, Buchanan Tower 1112

M.V. Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, UBC.

“Small Modular Nuclear Reactors: Fantasies for the Interregnum”

This talk will begin by describing the global status of nuclear energy, in particular its declining share of global electricity generation, to explain the motivations for what are called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), a class of nuclear reactor designs. Proponents of these theoretical designs make a number of claims, and the talk will go over some of these, followed by a discussion of the motivation for these claims. This will be followed by an assessment of these claims, as a way of answering the question that is of widespread interest: can small modular reactors, or nuclear energy in general, help mitigate climate change.


8 December 2022, 5:00-6:30 pm, Buchanan Tower 1112

Jonathan Basile, Post-doctoral fellow, Department of English, UBC

“Plasticity before and after Genetics: Mary Jane West-Eberhard and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis”

In the 21st Century, evolutionary theory has fragmented into myriad approaches to the study of life that have fundamentally placed in question the basic orthodoxies of the Modern Synthesis, population genetics, and gene selectionism. I will closely examine Mary Jane West-Eberhard’s theory of plasticity to better understand why the old models failed and yet why their successors fail to gel into a unified theory.


31 January 2023, 5:00-6:30 pm, Buchanan Tower 1112

Alison M. Macfarlane, Director SPPGA,

“Zombie Technology: The Changing Story of the Mythical Fast Reactor”

Fast breeder reactors, especially sodium-cooled fast breeder reactors, have a seventy-plus year history of support and operation.  Initially, this type of reactor was famously promoted as producing electricity “too cheap to meter” but sodium-cooled fast reactors have not lived up to that promise, barely producing electricity in most instances.  I examine why these reactors continue to receive political and economic support from governments and industry, even though they have proved incapable of matching light water reactors in terms of capacity factor and energy production.  These zombie technologies persist due to a number of factors, including the powerful creation myth that spawned the technology initially.