Representatives of higher education institutions in the Philippines attended “STS-PH ONE: First National Conference on Science, Technology, and Society (STS)” conducted by the STS program of UP Diliman on June 18 and 19, 2015 at the Institute of Biology, National Science Complex, Diliman, Quezon City.
The event started with discussions on the recognition of STS as a discipline, its philosophy and history, and directions for the discipline in the country.
In his welcome remarks, UP Diliman College of Science Dean Jose Maria Balmaceda commended the treatment of STS as an area of research and an academic discipline, and not just a subject to teach. STS is prescribed by the Commission on Higher Education to be included in all General Education programs in the country.
In his message, UP President Alfredo Pascual said STS was first taught in the Philippines in UP by the College of Science. He noted the importance of STS to stave off what Isaac Asimov called “the saddest aspect of life right now,” which is, “that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” He said that STS is dialogue between science and society.
UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan, the keynote speaker, lectured on developing the discipline in the Philippines. He said STS started in the West in the 1960s to underscore the “social constructivist” relation between science and society, and in the Philippines in 1987 to give science a nationalist perspective. In 2006, UP gave STS a more interdisciplinary approach.
Tan argued that STS is useful to counter popular but misleading views of science. “Wonder science” is a false view that looks at science as offering catch-all solutions. Science must also be extricated from commercial manipulation and consumerism, and guarded from being turned into instruments for distorting social interaction or of warfare.
Tan’s recommendations for STS include the integration of “western social constructivist agenda and our own appreciative ‘S&T in society’ perspective to evolve STS so it serves the objectives of developing students with higher-order thinking, of being able to integrate and synthesize, to being critical and interrogative.” He also endorsed using the Philippine context, such as local popular technologies reshaping social relations; and showing how science can empower people and democratize society.
The other talks elaborated on how science and society mould each other.
UP Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology and STS Program Professor Benjamin Vallejo Jr. traced it back to the 1930s with the term “thought collectives” coined by Ludwik Fleck to explain how scientific ideas change over time.
Ateneo de Manila University Associate Professor of Medieval Philosophy Jovino Miroy explained the concept of scientific rationality, a view which holds that science is a communicative reality or one that requires the agreement of others.
In an open forum, UP Diliman Vice Chancellor for Research and Development and STS Professor Fidel Nemenzo said scientific facts are formed by social consensus and influenced by religious and socio-political agenda and factors outside the scientific method.
The rest of the first day featured presentations by National Institute of Science and Mathematics Education Development’s Dr. Rodolfo Treyes (“Facilitating Students’ Understanding of Science Concepts through Contextual Learning: The STS in the K to 12 Science Frameworks”), UP Open University Faculty of Education Dean Patricia Arinto (“Using Technology in the STS Classroom: What, Why, and How”), and Timothy James Dimacali from GMA News (“Science Communication in the Philippines”).
The second day featured presentations by Kobe University Professor Togo Tsukahara (“STS in East Asia”), National Institute of Geological Sciences Professor and Project NOAH Executive Director Mahar Lagmay (“STS and DRRM: Project NOAH Experience”), Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism Executive Director Malou Mangahas (“What if Rizal had Facebook and Twitter? Social Media, Social, Political Movements and Mobilization”), and National Academy of Science and Technology Academician and President William Padolina (“Science Policy, Prioritization and National Development”).
- This story originally appeared at the UP Website. Photos by Jun Madrid.