Shaping the Future — Science as Intervention The Second Ittingen Summer School August 13, 2005 — August 21, 2005

The Collegium Helveticum of the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) and the University of Zurich, the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas of Tel Aviv University, and the Center for Junior Research Fellows of the University of Konstanz, in cooperation with the Lion Foundation, invite applications to the Second Ittingen Summer School, which is devoted to the topic “Shaping the Future — Science as Intervention.” The Summer School is a one-week intensive workshop, which will take place in a beautiful old monastery in Switzerland. It requires active participation, including preparatory reading, small group discussions, and the presentation of short papers.

The participants will stay in the hotel of the Kartause Ittingen and receive free accommodation and full board. Travel costs of European and Israeli participants will be covered in full; participants from other parts of the world will receive a substantial contribution to their travel costs. All material necessary for the preparation of the Summer School, as well as the cultural programme during the School, is free.


The main goal of the Second Ittingen Summer School is to explore the tension between the inherent performativity and implied promises of science.

The history of science is, and has always been, closely related to the idea that the future of humankind can be — and has to be — actively shaped. Till the seventies science was considered the most important, if not the only social agency that can bring about an improvement of humanity. At the same time this almost unlimited confidence in science was accompanied by anxieties caused by a lack of confidence in the ability of science to control the consequences of its achievements. Thus the topic of “Shaping the future: Science as Intervention” has at least two different but interconnected dimensions, which will be addressed in the summer school:

The first is cognitive, and has been dealt with in the literature as the performative dimension of science. All scientific theories and practices imply a representation of the piece of the world they intend to explain. We will explore the extent to which this representation is “performative” in the sense that it has already shaped the world in a way that allows for an explanation to be offered in terms of the formulation of the problem

Secondly, an conception of science as intervention means that an ethical and political dimension is inherent to it: this is the dimension of “promises”. Scientific theories contain an implicit image of the future, usually a “better future” as they promise more health, happiness, security or comfort for humans. We will inquire into the manifold ways in which these promises impact on political decision making as well as on social, economic and ethical discourses.

See for details of programme and speakers.

Applications and Contact

The Second Ittingen Summer School welcomes applications from doctoral and post-doctoral students (who completed their PhD no earlier than 2000), from all academic disciplines in the natural, social and human sciences.

Application forms can be downloaded from the website of the Summer School, where further information is provided: Applications have to reach the organizers by May 10, 2005. Applicants will be notified in the beginning of June.

If you have additional questions, please write to: [email protected], or contact Daniel Strassberg, Lion Foundation, Weinbergstr.145, 8006 Z?rich, Switzerland. Phone +411-364 51 30; Fax +411-361 19 05.