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Alt: STS - engineering and design classrooms and collaborations as STS territories 
Rebekah Cupitt (Birkbeck, University of London)
Elizabeth Rodwell (University of Houston)
Elizabeth Reddy (Colorado School of Mines)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Engineering and design make broad promises on sustainable, socially-responsible change. Using cases from broad-ranging fields and case studies, this panel adds to feminist and applied STS practice and asks: how do we create a space for alternative modes of responsible change?

Long Abstract:

Engineering and design offer broad promises about sustainable and responsible change and studies of these fields therefore face challenges including identifying systemic bias, observing how structural violence is scaffolded and patterns of exclusion enacted through design, and providing critical insights and detailed accounts of the impact of engineered technologies on people's everyday lives. Speed of innovation, narrowly-imagined professional roles, lack of engagement with broader contexts, and the drive to generate profit mean that promises of sustainable and socially-responsible change repeatedly fall short. Will mainstream engineers and designers effectively destabilize the impossible charisma of solutions where “everybody wins”, the mythical “universal”, or the safety of the middle-ground? What role can STS researchers play in exercising care for people (characterized in detail, as well as the broader social issues). Who's job is it to factor in multiple, potentially transformative futures at the point of development and design?

This panel includes discussions of a variety of case studies that cover topics as wide-ranging as research on critical encounters with engineering and design in classrooms, ethnographic studies of engineering and design in practice, and histories of emergence of these fields and themes. We examine the everyday work of being part of transformative efforts to educate engineers and designers about socio-cultural perspectives on their work, inspiring broader conceptions of engaged and responsible action through critical practice, rerouting teams away from harmful decisions, repairing damage done by biased design, and creating spaces for play and imagination.

Panel presenters will share material from the environmental humanities, engineering education, arts-based research, cultural anthropology, critical data studies and more. All will address a core question developed in the context of ongoing conversations related to feminist, applied, and critical STS: how can STS scholars help carve out a space where alternative modes of engineering and design can operate?

Accepted papers:

Session 1