Science and Society Network

To meet the great challenges of this century, scientists and humanities and social science researchers need to work together. No single academic field can bring about the changes we need to see in the world. Bridging disciplinary divides is the key to finding new solutions to the problems we face.

Our work

Climate change, habitat and biodiversity loss, food and water security, and global health are among some of humanity’s biggest challenges. These issues are interconnected and require social researchers and scientists to work together to develop solutions. The Deakin Science and Society Network reaches across the disciplinary divides of our universities and institutions, and the divides between research, policy and practice. We emphasise the effective communication and translation of research, as the benefits of knowledge can’t be fully realised unless information is shared widely across different audiences.

The Deakin Science and Society Network supports science-literate social research and socially-engaged science that makes an impact.

Network Leaders

Dr Timothy Neale

Deputy Convener,

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Professor Emma Kowal


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Dr Euan Ritchie

Deputy Convener,
Communication and Outreach

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Our research themes

Environmental challenges

Theme leaders: Dr Euan Ritchie and Dr Tim Neale

Human cultures and the environment are deeply intertwined, from local ecosystems to globally. Current pressures, including climate change and widespread biodiversity loss, mean it is vital we better understand how we are shaping and being shaped by our surrounds. The Environmental Challenges theme brings together ecologists, anthropologists, psychologists, historians, economists, educators, legal scholars and others. Through collaborations and conversations across these disciplines we will address environmental issues and linkages including: biodiversity conservation; energy; mental and physical health; natural hazards management; and sustainable resource use.

Healthy futures

Theme leaders: Professor Anna Peeters and Dr Dominique Martin

Advances in biomedicine and public health have helped to extend human lifespans in many societies and made it possible to prevent and alleviate illnesses and injuries that devastated previous generations. However, our greater longevity, climate change, conflict and rapid changes in human lifestyles pose novel challenges. New technologies also raise questions about cognitive enhancement, genome modification and determination of death. This theme brings together scientists, social scientists, philosophers, bioethicists and health professionals, plus policy makers and the public, to help build healthy futures for all.

Indigenous knowledges

Theme leaders: Dr Dee Basaraba and Professor Emma Kowal

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have developed diverse and complex knowledge systems deeply embedded in local environments. Recognising Indigenous ways of knowing is crucial to developing long lasting solutions to ecological, social and health crises affecting Indigenous communities and Australia as a whole. The Indigenous knowledges theme brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars working at the interface of science and Indigenous knowledges on questions of environment, sustainability, livelihoods, health and wellbeing.

Data cultures

Theme leaders: Dr Radhika Gorur and Professor Dinh Phung

Contemporary societies are saturated with data, with almost every aspect of professional and social life now digitised in some way. This ‘datafication’ of society promises enormous benefits as well as challenges. Bringing together researchers in artificial intelligence, data science, human computer interaction and IT with sociologists, anthropologists, artists, and policy scientists, the ‘Data Cultures’ theme engages with intelligence and machine learning systems; data ethics; wearable, intimate and surveillance technologies; social media, “fake news” and the democratisation of data.

Featured projects

The Crochet Coral Reef began when Christine Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring and Deakin University, together with her sister Margaret, adapted the ‘hyperbolic crochet’ method to create a coral reef on their coffee table. Seen by more than three million people, it is now one of the largest participatory science + art endeavours in the world.

A collaboration between the Black Dog Institute’ Digital Dog initiative and Deakin’s Centre for Pattern Recognition and Data Analytics, the Ground Truth project harnesses novel machine learning to find ways to use social media data to identify people at risk of mental illness and prevent harm.

Inaugural Event

Our first event, Emerging Issues in Science and Society, took place at Deakin Downtown on Thursday 6 July 2017. You can follow the action from the day on twitter.

Held in partnership with the Australian Academy of Science, the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, and the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S), the event will look at pressing topics that affect Australian society.

Find out more about Emerging Issues in Science and Society

Related news

Bridging the divide

Could increased collaboration between scientific disciplines help overcome immense challenges facing the world?

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Contact Us

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