My name is Emils and I am a second-year Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society (PSTS) student from Latvia. After my BA in Law and Diplomacy I got myself in the field through professional work in policy-making positions. I felt that my thirst to bring forth positive societal change on the big issues would be quenched by applying all my skills and motivations this way. It was a time when technology was deemed to be the solution to all problems and I started reading into how and why this was supposed to be true. Additionally, my work at the United Nations in New York in particular gave me a first-hand experience of the gulf between the perceived importance of this field for society and the somewhat limited understanding of what and how complex it actually is.
Amidst all the politicking, there was genuineness in finding solutions that worked for everyone. How should we govern the internet so that all stakeholders’ views are respected? How do we effectively transfer technological development while respecting cultural heritage and enacting environmentally sound policies? What policies should we pursue to bridge the technological divide in the field of development? It was the moment when I determined to get the best possible education to develop the capabilities to understand and contribute to these debates.
In my opinion, society needs thinkers who are able to analyse, interpret, and take part in the debate of what the impact of science and technology on the world around us is and should be, whilst not forgetting the policy-makers, programmers, and engineers who typically wield the hammer. For these reasons, I find the UT an ideal place - a forum to gather engineers, philosophers, policy-makers alike and discover the complexities of the actions we need to make for the benefit of society at large. PSTS, in part, does a wonderful job at this. By being an interdisciplinary programme, PSTS has created an environment where students with different cultural, professional, and academic backgrounds can thoroughly engage with renowned experts in the field on the most pressing of issues.
My work here has taught me to take something abstract, yet not less important, as climate change and break it down into manageable sections that we can address; it has taught me to be charitable to people with different views then mine and understand the assumptions behind them; and, it has taught me to come up with unorthodox solutions to difficult problems by seeing the bigger picture. Real skills like these keep philosophy in fashion. If there is one thing I would like to say to all of the prospective and current PSTS students, it is this – challenge your own point of view. When was the last time you put yourself in another’s shoes? When was the last time you thought of your responsibilities? What do you take for granted out of habit, self-interest, and desire?