Abstract.2 02.07.2021

Tracing Collaborative Reflection Moment-to-Moment: Bringing Science & Technology Studies to Contemplative Science and Vice Versa (Preliminary Results) Mareike Smolka & Erik Fischer

During the MBM seminars in June and October 2020, we invited the contemplative science community to join interactive reflection workshops. The workshops were part of a study that received the Mind & Life Europe Varela Research Award 2019. This time, we will present preliminary results and invite you to discuss our analysis and interpretation of the empirical material. 
The study explores how collaborative reflection on the contextual dimensions of professional work is practiced and experienced in the contemplative science community. The motivation for this research is to establish a dialogue between Science & Technology Studies (STS), which examine science and technology development with sociological, anthropological, and philosophical approaches, and contemplative science. STS scholars have observed that technoscientific practitioners more broadly and contemplative scientists in particular experience a tension between responding to the contextual dimensions of their work (social, ethical, contemplative, environmental, economic, etc.) while operating in neoliberal management regimes of academic institutions that constrain scientists’ agency. We investigate how contemplative scientists navigate that tension through collaborative reflection in dialogues guided by the protocol of Socio-Technical Integration Research (STIR) and conducted follow-up interviews about their experiences thereof. We find that contemplative scientists perceive conflicts between contemplative and scientific activities, values, and identities. We further show that these conflicts were opened up for discussion in the process of collaborative reflection through relational practices: attentive listening, completing the STIR decision-making grid, attending to embodied ethics, recognizing shared epistemic living spaces, and extending STIR questions. We call these practices “values levers” because they stimulated small changes in thought and action that generated possibilities for resolving value conflicts. In studying values levers, we shed light on the oft-unacknowledged carriers of collaborative reflection, which enable technoscientific practitioners to cope with, unsettle, and productively disrupt – if ever so modestly – the structural contexts in which they are embedded.