Workshop 1: Diversity in science

13-14 June, 2022 , hosted by Samuli Reijula

University of Helsinki / TINT

Workshop programme

Diversity in the scientific community is a necessary condition for science to function as a knowledge-generating institution par excellence. As observed already by John Stuart Mill (1848), diversity provides the raw materials for social and intellectual progress via a “marketplace for ideas”: The freedom of researchers to self-organize opens new avenues of research and keeps open pathways of scientific discovery. In research networks, weak ties spanning structural holes can provide access to diverse sources of information (Aral & Alstyne 2017). At the same time, however, to avoid polarization and corrosion of trust in (and within) science, diversity of beliefs must be counterbalanced by mechanisms for arriving at scientific consensus.

Diversity is also crucial for the functioning of research groups. Scientific problem-solving is increasingly a team effort: solving research problems often requires recruiting a diverse set of human and material resources. Recent findings suggest that, under appropriate conditions, diversity may be more important than individual ability in group problem solving (Hong & Page 2004). 

In addition to its instrumental value in science, diversity (or the lack of thereof) gives rise to ethical and policy concerns. Meritocratic principles of hiring and funding allocation must be designed with an eye for managing diversity, so as to curb runaway processes of cumulative advantage and gender disparities (Fricker 2007; Larivière et al. 2013).

The aim of the workshop is to bring together these currently disconnected strands of research on diversity in science: What are the different notions and constructs of diversity used in the literature? How could diversity be measured? Through what mechanisms does diversity bring about epistemic and ethical benefits? What are the most promising science-policy actions for leveraging diversity?  

The workshop is hosted by the Academy of Finland research project Modeling the Republic of Science at TINT, Center for the philosophy of social science @ the University of Helsinki.

Keynote Speakers:

Roberta Sinatra, ITU Copenhagen

Petri Ylikoski, University of Helsinki

Vincent Larivière, l’Université de Montréal