What is STS?

Science and technology studies present one of the most rapidly developing research areas that encompasses different fields of studies such as sociology of science, sociology of technology, anthropology of science, anthropology of technology, industrial sociology, science and technology history, philosophy of science, comparative sociology, etc. In the 1980s the STS sprang up as a sociological discipline. However, due to the constantly changing research objects that have become more and more complicated with the lapse of time, the need for borrowing the research tools from the allied fields of studies (such as history, anthropology, philosophy and even ethics) became very clear. Due to the accelerating technological progress and the rise of new threats and challenges related to this progress, within the three last decades the science and technology studies have become one of the most strategically important fields of studies. Courses on history, sociology and philosophy of technology now make part of the leading universities' curricula, be it Harvard, Cambridge, Cornell, Stanford or MIT. Today STS departments and centres can be found almost in every American or European university.

Already at the kick-off of the STS Center at the EUSP, there has been scholars in Russia fruitfully working in the STS research area for already few years. The researchers from the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, the Higher School of economics, the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, the New Economic School, the Institute of Ethnology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and some other universities were among the pioneers in this field.

The RCS project

The project "Russian Computer Scienctists at home and abroad" led by distinguished professor of Science and Technology Studies at UC Davis (USA) Mario Biagioli was designed as a 28-month study of the population of Russian computer scientists (RCS henceforth) in Russia and abroad. From 2013 to 2015 extensive ethnographic fieldwork and/or oral history research was conducted in Moscow, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, Tomsk, Vladivostok, Kazan, as well as England, Israel, France, and the USA (Boston/NYC). The definition of RCS was broad, ranging from PhDs holding academic posts or research positions in private sector institutions to software entrepreneurs.

The project aimed at describing the population of RCS, both in Russia and abroad. The main interest of the study was to understand how professionals communicate across national and professional boundaries in the dual context of an intrinsically portable form of knowledge – relatively not-sticky forms of innovations – and a politically tense status quo where emigrates are both praised for their entrepreneurship and blamed for bringing the competition within or for siphoning the brightest brains off the Russian Federation.  

The RCS project was headed by Mario Biagioli (UC Davis) and Vincent Antonin Lepinay (Sciences Po and EUSP). International Advisory Board included Michael Gordin (Princeton), Loren Graham (MIT), David Kaiser (MIT), Martin Kenney (UС Davis), Tim Lenoir (Duke).