Professor Anthony Pennino (Assistant Professor, Literature; Theater & Technology) will be presenting at the Science in Public Conference at the University of Nottingham in Nottingham, England, on July 22-23, 2013. The conference seeks to explore the relationship of science and the scientific community to governmental organizations, the business sector, and the public at large. As science and scientific research plays an increasingly important part of our lives – from public health to green engineering – society's relationship to science is growing, deepening, and becoming more complex. To that end, the conference’s mission is to analyze science as a cultural phenomenon.
Prof. Pennino's paper, titled "Edward Bellamy and the Future of the Future," discusses the importance of science-fiction not strictly within the confines of the discipline of literature, but rather at the intersection of individual inspiration (both artistic and scientific) and societal and technological progress. His paper employs Edward Bellamy’s novel Looking Backward (1887), which finds a nineteenth-century man “transported” to the technologically and scientifically advanced American socialist utopia of the year 2000. The public's reaction to the novel at that time inspired the birth of political organizations (“Bellamy Clubs”) seeking to nationalize property.
"As the reaction to Bellamy’s work indicates, this genre comments on the present while directing us to our future," Prof. Pennino said. "In this manner, science-fiction provides a possible blueprint to the future both for the community of scientists, engineers, and the public at large."
Since the mission of the College of Arts and Letters is to examine that intersection between the humanities and science, Prof. Pennino will use the experience to provide his students with a clearer understanding that the disciplines of the humanities and the disciplines of the sciences are not hermetically sealed off from one another, but inform one another.
"It is important for us at Stevens to come to a better understanding of science in a cultural context because science and technology do not exist in vacuum," Prof. Pennino said. "The public will more readily accept the work scientists and engineers do if it has a greater comprehension of processes and methodologies of the scientific community."
Connect with the conference: @MakingSciPub, #SIP13.