Making Space for the Social Sciences: Webinar Series

Series Convenors

Professor Roy MacLeod PhD, DLitt, FAHA, FASSA, FSA, FRHistS, FRSN. Roy MacLeod is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Sydney School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry. He was educated in history, the biochemical sciences, and the history of science at Harvard University (summa cum laude); in the sociology of knowledge at the London School of Economics; and in modern history and history of science at Cambridge University, where he completed a PhD degree in 1967. In 2001, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters by Cambridge, and in 2005, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and Letters (honoris causa) by the University of Bologna. In 2015, he received the Sarton Medal from the University of Ghent. He was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in 1996 and of the Academy of the Humanities in Australia in 2001. In 2003, he was awarded the Centennial of Federation Medal for services to Australian Society, and in 2020, received the Medal of the Order of Australia, for services to Education and History.

Claire McFarland has a background spanning three sectors having held senior executive positions in a research organisation, government and industry. Most recently, Claire led the three year Innovation and Entrepreneurship think tank research program at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, publishing 12 research reports and several policy papers. Prior to this Claire was a senior executive in the Commonwealth Government leading government policy and programs to encourage digital takeup and before this Claire led high growth divisions within Telstra and Optus. A space enthusiast and endlessly curious about what makes things the way they are, Claire is now a first year PhD student at UTS.

Australia’s Future in Space: An Emerging Agenda for the Social Sciences

Space continues to be a new frontier for humankind, presenting significant opportunities for Social Scientists to apply their expertise. From sensemaking, to Indigenous astronomy, sustainability, industry, diplomacy and defence, this series of webinars examines the role for Social Scientists in Space. This is a timely series, given Australia’s ambitions to contribute to American efforts to return to the Moon in 2024, and as many Space faring nations look beyond, to Mars.

The 9-webinar series was convened by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in August 2021 through its Workshops Program. The series brought together experts and practitioners to discuss the implications and opportunities for the Social Sciences, and is open to Academy Fellows and the public.

Details and full video recordings of each session can be found by clicking the tiles below.

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Background and overall context

With renewed interest in space, the social sciences have a bold role to play. This webinar series brought together social scientists, industrial partners, and commercial practitioners to discuss a range of issues that are already confronting Australia with a view to developing a community of interest amongst social scientists, and a program of research, that will take Australian scholarship forward in this rapidly expanding field.

These webinars explored how industry will develop, how the public will respond, who will benefit, and how Australia might gain. These conversations were framed around five themes:

(1) The nature of ‘Space Industry’, as emerging in both theory and practice, overseas and in Australia;

(2) The policy implications inherent in three aspects of Australia’s endeavours in space, being preparation for space activity, space exploration and living in space;

(3) Social perspectives on space;

(4) The making (and branding) of an Australian space community, with a focus, discipline, and professional framework;

(5) The educational opportunities that space industry presents for young Australians.



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