About James H. Collier

I am an Associate Professor of Science and Technology in Society at Virginia Tech. My scholarly interests center on the features and conduct of philosophy in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS). STS, I contend, remains circumspect in its attitudes toward philosophy. In part as a consequence, STS fails to possess a realized, coherent philosophy of its own. Of course, my contention assumes, and that STS both needs and wants a unique philosophy. My position comes out of research involving social epistemology, an approach to knowledge as a collective, governable achievement, and in the nascent philosophy of science and technology studies. My dissertation outlined aspects of a philosophy of STS and, after a detour into research on scientific and technical communication, I return to this work. In part, this work analyses issues that include normativity, case study methodology (problems involving empiricism in STS — observation, localism, inference and universality), interdisciplinary and the status of STS as an academic field, and the governance of knowledge including, finally, how we determine significance. I retain my interest in scientific and technical communication through the theoretical and practical concerns raised by my editorial work.

Please contact me by email jim.collier@vt.edu or by fax 540.231.7013. Cell number available on request. Through my work with the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, I am on Facebook and Twitter @ReplyCollective.

Research Interests

Social epistemology, the philosophy of Science and Technology Studies, the conduct of philosophical and academic inquiry, scientific and technical communication, digital media.


I am the Series Founder and Editor of Collective Studies in Knowledge and Society published by Rowman and Littlefield International.

I am the Founding and Acting Editor of the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective (SERRC).The SERRC launched in November 2011.

I am the Executive Editor of Social Epistemology: A Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Policy.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes social epistemology as: " ... [T]he study of the social dimensions of knowledge or information. There is little consensus, however, on what the term 'knowledge' comprehends, what is the scope of the 'social', or what the style or purpose of the study should be. According to some writers, social epistemology should retain the same general mission as classical epistemology, revamped in the recognition that classical epistemology was too individualistic. According to other writers, social epistemology should be a more radical departure from classical epistemology, a successor discipline that would replace epistemology as traditionally conceived." My work accords with the so described "radical departure" school. While I consider the so-called "radical departure" school as social epistemology, if one wishes a distinction, 'critical social epistemology' or 'political social epistemology' appear somewhat apt terms.

Social epistemology in this vein was founded by Steve Fuller in his book Social Epistemology (1988). Fuller also founded the journal, Social Epistemology, in 1987. I was one of Steve's students while he was at Virginia Tech and he was a member of my doctoral committee. Like Fuller, I see "... social epistemology as an interdisciplinary research program. Social epistemology is a normative discipline that addresses philosophical problems of knowledge using the tools of history and the social sciences."

Before returning to Virginia Tech in 2001, I was the Director of the Writing in the Disciplines Program at the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Writing at Duke University. At Duke I was also an Assistant Professor of the Practice. From 1998-2000, I was an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts.

Degrees I hold:

All degrees were taken at Virginia Tech.

On Research

I write under the name James H. Collier.

My most recent (December 2015), edited, book is The Future of Social Epistemology: A Collective Vision a volume written in collaboration with the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective. This book launches Collective Studies in Knowledge and Society published by Rowman and Littlefield International.

In 2013, I published another edited book On Twenty-Five Years of Social Epistemology: A Way Forward (Routledge).

I am the second author, with Steve Fuller, of Philosophy, Rhetoric and the End of Knowledge: A New Beginning for Science and Technology Studies (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004). I am the author and editor of Scientific and Technical Communication: Theory, Practice and Policy (with David Toomey; Sage, 1997). And I have authored and edited an expanded, digital edition of Scientific and Technical Communication (with David Toomey, 2004). I have published articles in, among other journals, Futures, Minerva, Philosophy and Rhetoric, and Technical Communication Quarterly.

Courses at Virginia Tech

I teach, or have taught, the following courses at Virginia Tech:

Graduate Courses
Introduction to Science and Technology Studies (Fall 2015)
5305: Main Themes in the Philosophy of Modern Science & Technology (Fall 2013)
The Normative in STS (Spring 2013)
• Themes and Contestations in Contemporary Academic Inquiry (Fall 2011)
The Rhetoric of Science (Spring 2011)
5306: Main Themes in the Philosophy of Modern Science & Technology (Spring 2010)
The Philosophy of Science and Technology Studies (Spring 2009)
Rhetoric in Digital Environments (Spring 2008)
On the Nature of Academic and Intellectual Inquiry (Fall 2006)
• Knowing in Non-Fiction (Spring 2005)
• Writing in the Disciplines (Fall 2003)

Undergraduate Courses
Introduction to Humanities, Science amd Environment
Living Through Technology (Capstone Course)
• The Internet: Hype and Glory (Capstone Course)
• Managing Knowledge and Information (Capstone Course)
• The Public Intellectual (Senior Seminar)
• Rhetoric and Scientific and Technological Controversies (Capstone Course)
Writing and Designing for the World Wide Web
Science Writing
Technical Writing: Mixed and On-Line
• Business Writing