Fully Funded PhD: Water Security in Cape Town

Cameron Harrington and I have received full funding for a PhD student interested in the politics and ethics of water security in Cape Town. Details of the call can be downloaded here. Please circulate to those who may be interested; happy to answer any questions as they arise. Here are the brief details:

• Full funding (international tuition + stipend + visa costs + travel) for a student from a DAC nation eligible to receive ODA funding to pursue a PhD at Durham University for three years in either the School of Government and International Affairs or the Department of Geography

• The application deadline is short: AUGUST 31, 2018

• The start date is: FEBRUARY 2019Durham GCRF CDT Water Security PhD Advert p1.jpg

Durham GCRF CDT Water Security PhD Advert

 

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The new science wars

I happen to be reading the book Wittgenstein’s Poker, which was an infamous but brief exchange between two philosophical heavy weights, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper. I’ve meant to read it for years, and now that I found it for under $5 it seemed timely to learn a bit more about the old kind of science wars where battles were over things like whether and how language and social practices affect the objects of scientific inquiry.

Ah, those were the days.

Today it is more likely that the battle lines are drawn as a war about whether or not to do science at all. Dan Farber has just such a piece over on his blog, which details how an assessment of “peer review” for NSF projects seems more of a thinly veiled political exercise.

Dan’s piece sounds similar to the stories coming out of Canada: the general hostility between politics and science and the on-going barb’s being thrown at the Prime Minister for accidentally coining a phrase when he warned we should not “commit sociology.”

What’s odd about this?

The first thing is that the back and forth, “he said she said” about science and politics (such as in this interview probing the war of words between James Hansen (climate scientist) and Joe Oliver (Canadian Minister of Natural Resources) over the KXL Pipeline) misses the deeper issues in the fit of science to democratic institutions. That the two are commensurable (at least the current types of science and democracy) seems far from guaranteed. That would seem a more interesting debate to have.

The second is that there is a widely acknowledged strategic shift in what sort of projects fall under new funding priorities. It seems odd to harp on this point, especially since many of the disciplines themselves grew up in exactly this way – geography, for instance, was hand-maiden to the military for a long time. Sociology to statecraft, and so on. At any rate, it seems odd to distance the two in an arbitrary way now.