CFP: Critical Social Science Approaches to Epidemic Intelligence


Workshop University of Sydney

Critical Social Science Approaches to Epidemic Intelligence

21-22 March 2024

Organizers: Professor Sonja van Wichelen (University of Sydney), Associate Professor Kari Lancaster (UNSW), and Professor Warwick Anderson (University of Sydney)

Workshop Précis

The role of the social sciences in enhancing the social and cultural complexity of epidemic intelligence has been recognised, and in some contexts, institutionalised. Yet, most of the input from the social sciences have been restricted to those coming from the psychological or behavioural sciences, emphasizing, on the level of epistemology, positivistic values of experimental evidence, and on the level of policy, the belief and commitment to the behavioural economic framework of nudging. By bringing together critical social science scholars from medical anthropology, sociology of medicine, the history and philosophy of science, and science and technology studies, this workshop explores how a critical social science of epidemic intelligence can contribute to a more complex conceptualisation of epidemic intelligence, which could advance effective disease modelling.

The workshop will provide a cross-disciplinary conversation between social science scholars aiming to do four things. First, engaging with the current, and with previous global pandemics, we intend to assess how the sociological inputs and metrics have been integrated with disease models and understandings of epidemic intelligence. Second, we aim to interrogate how more critical approaches to epidemic intelligence—linked to social medicine, disease ecology, biosocial approaches, and planetary health—can more adequately capture the biosocial conditions in which viruses become pathogenic. Third, we want to examine what modelling does, sociologically and politically, to the time frames and perceived configurations of epidemic disease. And, finally, we take this opportunity to also think about how our findings could inform science policy and can offer an alternative to the governance of nudge worlds.

Call for Expression of Interest

The workshop is interdisciplinary in nature and brings together scholars from Europe, the US and Asia across a range of disciplines. In order to identify and include Early Career Researchers working in this area in Australia, we are opening a call for expression of interest. The University of Sydney will contribute to costs for travel and accommodation.

There are two ways to participate: as a presenter of a thought-piece or as an active participant in discussions. As funding is limited, priority for funding will be given to presenter of thought pieces. The deadline for a statement of purpose (300-500 words) and a one-page CV is November 30th, 2023. Please send these materials to Rachel Yang:

We will notify you of the outcome by Mid December at the latest. Thought-pieces (3-5 pages) should be submitted by the first week of March so that we can disseminate prior to the workshop. The plan is to compile papers for an edited volume pitched at Cambridge University Press.