Dr. Gordon McOuat, professor in Sciences Studies in the Contemporary Studies Program and the History of Science and Technology Program, has been awarded an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The funding is part of a $5.69 million package of federal research support to four Halifax universities, designed to encourage innovation in social sciences and humanities projects and announced on November 15 by Andy Fillmore, Member of Parliament for Halifax.
Insight Grants are designed to build knowledge and understanding about people, societies and the world by supporting research excellence in subject areas eligible for SSHRC funding.
“Projects like this demonstrate how humanities research can complement and parallel basic science research,” said Dr. Peter O’Brien, VP Academic, who represented King’s at the public announcement held at Dalhousie University. “This kind of work contributes to the important cross-discussion that informs and addresses broader societal concerns about how science and technology affect all of us.”
Dr. McOuat’s project, entitled Circulating knowledge in a post-colonial world: J.B.S. Haldane’s passage to India – biopolitics, evolution and diversity, examines the effect on both Western and Eastern knowledge of this leading English scientist’s move to India in 1957. Haldane, who founded modern neo-Darwinism (also known as modern population biology), renounced his British citizenship to devote himself to the cause of Indian independence.
“No one has ever looked at the way the move affected Haldane’s science and, in turn, the effect this had on our understanding of modern genetics and population biology,” said McOuat. “This is the first case study in a larger study that looks at how knowledge circulates and changes as it crosses borders and encounters other cultures.”
“In essence, we’re looking at the circulation of knowledge and cosmopolitan science around the globe, and the constant dialogue this generates with other traditions.”
Dr. McOuat was Director of the SSHRC-funded Strategic Knowledge Cluster, Situating Science, a 10-year project to promote new ways of bringing together leading Canadian and international scholars studying science and technology from philosophical, historical, sociological, and cultural perspectives, along with colleagues in adjacent fields, and making that work accessible to journalists, museum workers and the Canadian public. He also spearheads a SSHRC-funded partnership with universities in Canada, India, and South-East Asia to study “Cosmopolitanism and the local.” The findings from both research initiatives will feed into and shape Dr. McOuat’s current project.