Karen Maex gives 200th Who’s in Town lecture

9 May 2017

On Monday, 8 May, AUC and AUCSA committee Curiosity jointly hosted the 200th edition of the “Who’s in Town” seminar series by inviting Prof. Dr. Karen Maex, Rector Magnificus of the University of Amsterdam, to deliver a celebratory lecture.

Titled “Why science and society should go hand in hand,” Prof. Dr. Maex traced how developments in physics and material science have given way to an ICT revolution, resulting in a societal shift that raises questions not only about the future of science and education, but also the future of society and its relationship to scientific progress. The lecture concluded with reactions from an expert panel consisting of Dr. Erinç Salor (AUC lecturer and tutor), Dr. André Nusselder (lecturer at AUC and UvA’s Institute of Informatics: Information Studies) and Loïs Hutubessy (AUC student).

Karen Maex Whos in Town at 200

Who’s in Town@200

The lecture by Prof. Dr. Maex marked the occasion of the 200th “Who’s in Town” seminar given at AUC.  Since 2010, members of the AUC community have been organising small-scale seminars by inviting interesting guest speakers who happened to be "in town" to give a presentation, lecture and/or debate at AUC. An ongoing series, these events provide a platform for members of the local and wider academic communities to engage with issues and topics presented by expert speakers in an informal, intimate setting. Often an extension of contemporary debates and topics discussed in AUC classrooms, the series seeks to transcend disciplines by addressing topics from a multitude of perspectives.

Karen Maex Whos in Town at 200

“Why science and society should go hand in hand”

Prof. Dr. Maex’s lecture was a particularly fitting topic for the Who’s in Town series. Starting with a discussion on developments in semiconductor and transistor technology, Maex traced how discoveries at the atomic level have had led to the ICT revolution, which in turn has had a profound societal impact far beyond the realms of physical science. As such scientific advancements continue, Maex raised questions as to whether the necessary narratives exist (or can exist) not only to communicate about, but also to understand how the consequences of technological progress and application throughout society. It is this lack of linear connection between scientific research and societal application, she argued, that deserves further attention from researchers as the results of scientific progress continue to more profoundly impact individual lived realities.  

Whos in Town at 200 Karen Maex

Expert panel reaction and discussion

After Prof. Dr. Maex concluded her lecture, panellist members Loïs Hutubessy, Dr. Erinç Salor and André Nusselder were invited to give their reactions. Representing a variety of perspectives, the resulting discussion highlighted how technology is changing society and the responsibility that researchers and academics have (or should have) in examining these consequences. The questions from the audience further underscored this need for an interdisciplinary approach to research and communicating about advancements in science, as increasingly complex developments require more in-depth and holistic understandings of its effects.    

AUC would like to thank Prof. Dr. Maex for giving an inspiring lecture, the panellist members for their thoughtful contributions, and Dr. Forrest Bradbury, Tadeus Hogenelst and the Curiosity committee members for convening the event.

Published by  Amsterdam University College