Summer School 2023

“Collaboration and Interdisciplinarity in Science and Technology” // September 24th to 29th 2023

Organizer: GRK 2696 “Transformations of science and technology since 1800: topics, processes, institutions”, in cooperation with: Interdisciplinary Summer School Series in Higher Education Research and Science Studies (

Science as a social system has grown rapidly during the 20th and the early 21st centuries. This growth involved processes of cognitive and social differentiation, resulting in an increasing variety of scientific disciplines and research fields. Thomas Kuhn argued that similar to the speciation of new biological organisms, new disciplines emerge when scientists increasingly rely on a new lexicon that excludes non-specialists from scientific communication. In his view, such “lexical diversity” permits the sciences to solve more complex scientific puzzles than a lexically homogeneous science. In contrast, Peter Galison argued that “trading zones” between fields can bridge gaps in communication through interdisciplinary collaboration. The summer school will examine both collaboration and interdisciplinarity from the perspectives of history, philosophy and sociology of science and technology. We will discuss state-of-the-art theories, methods and research designs that aim at better understanding the complex web of scientific collaboration, the costs and benefits of interdisciplinary research, the competition between research fields, institutional conditions for successful collaboration, and their impact on scientific careers. The summer school will give early career researchers in the three disciplines (HPS) the opportunity to discuss these issues with leading scholars and probe new ideas for their own projects.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Daniel Acuña (University of Colorado Boulder). His research falls within the field of science of science and computational methods. His primary focus is on relationships, mechanisms, and optimization opportunities of knowledge production. He builds publications and citations datasets and applies Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to uncover rules that make publication, collaboration, and funding decisions more successful. In addition, he has created tools to improve literature search, peer review, and detect scientific fraud.
  • Hanne Andersen (University of Copenhagen). Her research falls within political epistemology, philosophy of science in practice, and integrated history and philosophy of science. Her primary research focus is on the structure and development of 20th and 21st century science. Currently, her work is especially focused on interdisciplinarity and expertise, including collaborative and interdisciplinary practices of science, how these practices have developed and still are developing, how they affect our understanding of disciplines and of expertise, and which implications they have for science education, science policy and science management today and in the future.
  • Hunter Heyck (University of Oklahoma). His research focuses on the history of modern social sciences as well as the history of technology and science in the 20th century. He is especially interested in how different tools and technologies have been used to represent, investigate, and model the workings of the human mind and society, in the context of technological change.   He has also examined the ideal and the practice of interdisciplinarity in Cold War Social Sciences.
  • Erin Leahey (University of Arizona, Tucson). Her research falls within the sociology of science and higher education studies, but reaches also into management and information science. She focuses on scientific careers, inequality and research collaboration, including the costs, benefits, and precursors of interdisciplinary research at both the individual and organization levels.
  • Cyrus Mody (University of Maastricht). His research falls within history and sociology of recent science and technology, specifically the applied physical sciences in the United States since 1965.  He studies the commercialization of academic research, the longue durée of responsible research and innovation (RRI), and the technopolitics of scarcity in the long 1970s. His research foci are: applied physics and engineering science; commercialization of academic research; microelectronics; university-industry-government partnerships; countercultural science and responsible innovation; energy humanities.
  • Hannah Rubin (University of Missouri): Her research falls within the philosophy of science and philosophy of biology. She uses mathematical models to investigate the social structure of academic communities and its effect on knowledge production. Recently, she received an NSF Career grant, entitled “Race, Gender, and the Science of Science”, to integrate considerations about the effects of researchers’ social identities on inquiry into the study of how to achieve well-functioning science.

The speakers will offer the following Working Groups:

Daniel Acuña: “Quantitative Methods to Investigate Collaboration and Interdisciplinarity in S&T: Questions, Methods, and Challenges”

The rapid expansion of scientific literature coupled with the progressively intricate nature of research problems necessitate interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches among scholars. To that end, researchers must identify and leverage interdisciplinary networking opportunities to cultivate mentorship, collaborate on research, and evaluate academic achievement. Quantitative approaches, such as artificial intelligence, natural language processing, network analysis, and bias and variance quantification, are indispensable in facilitating these efforts. The keynote and working group aim to explore the use of quantitative methodologies in modeling scientific expertise through text analysis, predicting research impact via bibliometrics, and evaluating research output using mathematical models. Attendees will develop skills to extract structured data from unstructured sources, to enhance interdisciplinarity, and to foster optimal scientific collaborations. This forum aims to promote complementary tool sets for considering the implementation of interdisciplinary practices in science and technology.

Hanne Andersen: “Studies of interdisciplinarity: Questioning the legends”

Much literature on interdisciplinarity build on very particular ideas about how to define and differentiate between different kinds of cross-disciplinary activities, and about how the types of activities thus defined and differentiated can be assessed and valued compared to each other. In this talk, I will question (some of) these ideas and examine how this may open for new perspectives in historical, philosophical and sociological studies of interdisciplinarity. Hence, an aim of the talk is also to open for conversations with the audience on whether bracketing some of the ‘legends’ about interdisciplinarity can cast new light on their own studies of interdisciplinary research.

Hunter Heyck: “Spaces of inquiry and their meaning for collaboration and interdisciplinarity.”

In this lecture, I will present an overview of a particularly interesting and significant interdisciplinary space of inquiry, the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Over the past sixty years, a unique scientific, technological, and educational community has grown in and around Norman, Oklahoma, that has pioneered observing, understanding, and predicting intense weather. Innovations produced by this community, such as the Doppler radar that gives advance warning of severe weather, have had enormous impact on our daily lives, and both the science of weather prediction and the drama of “storm chasing” are now fixtures on the news in America. Today, this community finds its institutional home in a bewildering variety of state, federal, university, and private agencies, many of which are part of, and all of which connect to, the National Weather Center. In my lecture for the summer school, I will investigate what interdisciplinarity and collaboration mean in the different spaces of inquiry of the NWC—the region, the institution (and its many centers), its physical building(s), and its research work sites—the lab, the field, and the office. I will pay particular attention to interdisciplinarity and collaboration as mediated through technology, in addition to the ways that they are mediated through institutional forms and spatial arrangements. For example, radar (and other forms of remote sensing) and meteorology are inseparable today, but radar engineering and weather prediction are distinct disciplines, housed in separate centers, that nevertheless are intertwined at fundamental levels. I also hope to look at an area of interdisciplinary connection and conflict: the borderland between meteorology and climate science. This area is prone to dispute, as weather prediction and climate modeling operate at such wildly different timescales that many of the relevant phenomena and appropriate research methods are different; yet, since the public largely does not differentiate between climate and weather, and since climate change does influence weather, there is a persistent pressure for meteorology to embrace a broader conception of itself as ‘atmospheric science’ or even ‘earth systems science’ so as to encompass climate science, atmospheric chemistry, and hydrology. One very large (over $100 million), but eventually abortive, example of this trend was the GeoCarb project, a multi-institution, multi-disciplinary attempt to use a variety of remote sensing technologies to track the flow of carbon through different ecosystems.

Erin Leahey: “Collaboration is hard. Interdisciplinary research is hard. What does it get us?”

Increasingly, collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches typify scientific pursuits. Does engaging in collaboration and/or interdisciplinary research influence individuals’ careers and the quality/type of resulting research? If so, how, to what extent, and for whom? In this working group we will begin by examining the challenges involved in working on scientific teams and pursuing interdisciplinary research (whether alone or on a team). We will study approaches to measuring the key concepts of collaboration and interdisciplinarity, as well as related concepts of novelty and disruption, using computational approaches to textual analysis as well as bibliometric citation data. We will review empirical scholarship that examines how interdisciplinarity and collaboration influence scientific careers and the scientific community more broadly, with an eye toward identifying puzzles and gaps ripe for future contributions. 

Cyrus Mody: “Scientific “Bubbles” in Nanotechnology and Beyond”

Scientists are as prone to fashions as anyone. As a result, topics or even entire fields in science can suddenly balloon in interest and resources, often only to deflate later – either suddenly and spectacularly or more gradually. For about twenty-five years now I’ve been studying – and have even participated in – several such “bubbles,” mostly in fields relating to nanotechnology. In this talk, I review a few bubbles, the conditions that encouraged and sustained them, and some of their epistemic and institutional consequences. Bubbles are often associated with overpromising, exaggeration of results, and sloppy science that quickly becomes controversial; while this may have both benefits and drawbacks, there are clear downsides to overpromises and mistakes remaining in the scientific record permanently. I therefore close by exploring some ways to make it easier to correct the record and alleviate possible harms from scientific bubbles.

Hannah Rubin: “Modeling scientists’ social interactions and their consequences”

Modeling scientists’ social interactions and their consequences. This working group will discuss how mathematical models can be fruitfully integrated into an interdisciplinary study of science as a social system, as well as how to interpret and evaluate the usefulness of these models. We will start with an introduction to evolutionary game theory and network theory, formal frameworks that have been used to capture, respectively, the dynamics of scientists’ interactions and the spread of ideas throughout communities. We will then discuss some examples of how these frameworks have been used to study various aspects of the social nature of science, including the benefits of and impediments to diversity in scientific disciplines and collaborations. We will end with a discussion of connections between these models and other approaches to studying science as a social institution, e.g., uses of empirical data, case studies, and abstract philosophical theorizing. 

For more information, see our program.

Call for contributions:

We invite contributions from advanced graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from history, philosophy and sociology of science and technology as well as the fields of science of science and science & innovation studies. We are interested in both theoretical as well as the empirical contributions addressing various aspects of collaboration and interdisciplinarity in science and technology.

To apply, please send the following material in a single pdf file by May31st 2023 to

  • Letter of motivation
  • Short CV

The application process will be competitive and participants will be selected according to qualification and research interests. The cost of participation will be € 250 and includes full board and lodging. 

A selection of participants will be given the opportunity to give short presentations of their own work as part of the school. The presentations will be followed by a commentary from a faculty member of the graduate school or one of the invited speakers. In case you intend to give a presentation, please include in your application: 

  • Title of your talk
  • Long abstract (approx. 1000 words) focusing on work in progress from ongoing research projects addressing the above issues.

We offer a small number of stipends to participants with limited funding opportunities. To apply for a stipend, please also prepare and submit a letter, no longer than one page, explaining your financial situation. The research training group is strongly committed to creating equal opportunities. In case of equal qualification, preference will be given to underrepresented groups. 

We are organizing on-site child care. Please indicate in your application if you intend to bring your child or children. 

You can contact the organizers of the summer school using the email address