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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Science as a social practice | MIT News

PhD student Marion Boulicault believes in an interdisciplinary path forward for science, feminism, and philosophy, says

Marion Boulicault
Photo: Joseph Lee

Marion Boulicault hates making decisions. “I want to do everything,” she says, “and one of the effects of making a choice is that other choices are closed off.” Alternately drawn to work in environmental science, public policy, and philosophy, she has always felt compelled to bring her interests together.

So when she first began her doctorate in philosophy at MIT, Boulicault assumed that choosing such an abstract field meant letting go of the pragmatic, on-the-ground impact of a career in public service... 

Working at the interface of philosophy and science
Through her HASTS interdisciplinary coursework, Boulicault first encountered a field that intrigued her: the feminist philosophy of science. She was struck that problems of gender in science go far beyond equal representation. “The notion of ‘bias’ can’t be understood only at an individual level — it’s also social, cultural, and structural. Although science is often idealized as value-free and purely ‘objective,’ it’s a practice done by people and institutions,” she says. “Science is inherently social.”...

Bringing a humanities perspective to science
Boulicault has managed to merge her dual passions for conceptual thinking and public service as a founding member of the Harvard GenderSci Lab, which generates feminist critiques, methods, and concepts for scientific research on sex and gender.  

At times, operating within a truly interdisciplinary framework is difficult — the GenderSci Lab consists of biologists, psychologists, philosophers, and historians — but she has found others with similar interests and has created her own interdisciplinary space.
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Source: MIT News 


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