Technology, society, and sustainability
I research social and technical issues of using science and technology to make transitions toward sustainability. By ‘sustainability’ I mean a range of ideas connected to long-term human and ecological well-being. I’m interested in how scientific knowledge can be better mobilized to tackle socially complex environmental problems, and how technological sustainability transitions can be brought about in just and participatory ways.
Knowledge commons for green chemistry
This central project of my dissertation research investigates patterns of knowledge sharing that are emerging across broad efforts to eliminate toxic chemicals from systems of production. I’m interested in systems of shared knowledge production and management that have the characteristics of knowledge commons, and the ways in which these systems may shape our understanding of chemicals and environmental health. Through this research, I hope to explore ways of collaboratively building information infrastructures for chemical hazard assessment and safer chemical substitution.
Published materials & works in progress
- For an overview of this project, see my presentation with Alastair Iles, Knowledge commons for green chemistry: Collective solutions to information challenges in the substitution of hazardous chemicals.
- Open knowledge management for the substitution of hazardous chemicals (working paper).
- Chemical information nodes: a collaboratively-edited map of databases and open data resources that contribute to the global chemical information commons, with an emphasis on chemical hazards and environmental impacts.
Green design ethics
A related set of research questions addresses ethical issues in green technology and design. For example, green design tools are increasingly used to evaluate or to guide the design of alternative technologies. In what ways might these highly technical tools be shaped by social values? How might design processes for green technologies involve greater accountability to society? How, and to what degree, should ordinary people participate in the design of technologies that affect their health? Publications on these topics are forthcoming.