I research issues in science & technology for sustainability, focusing on materials and production systems.

Knowledge systems for material sustainability

I’m interested in how scientific knowledge can be better mobilized to tackle socially complex environmental problems, and how technological change can be responsible and just. This was the subject of my doctoral research. I asked two broad questions having to do with green chemistry as an approach to eliminate toxic substances from systems of production.

What kinds of systems could produce, test, verify, and organize scientific knowledge in ways that better meet the needs of a growing community of green design practitioners, advocates, and decision-makers? I investigated emerging systems of collective knowledge production and management—knowledge commons—as a potential way to improve our understanding of chemicals and environmental health.

How can green chemistry and sustainable design solve socially-complex problems when the dominant societal tendency is to “sleepwalk” through technological changes? I argue that society should be actively and consciously involved in shaping alternative material technologies. But what would it take to recruit pluralistic and democratic participation in technological development? How could processes of green design be reshaped?

Find out more


  • Akos Kokai, Alastair Iles, and Christine M. Rosen (2020). Green design tools: Building values and politics into material choices. Science, Technology, & Human Values. 10.1177/0162243920976840.
  • Akos Kokai, Ann Blake, Michel Dedeo, and Tom Lent (2020). Building shared information infrastructure for chemical alternatives assessment. Elem Sci Anth 8: 26. DOI: 10.1525/elementa.422.
  • Akos Kokai & Alastair Iles (2020). Materials sovereignty: Pathways for shaping nanotechnology design. Elem Sci Anth 8: 14. DOI: 10.1525/elementa.410.
  • Akos Kokai (2020). Knowledge systems for material sustainability. [pdf] PhD dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.


  • Sustaining a chemical knowledge commons. Clean Production Action – BizNGO Webinar, June 2020 [recorded].
  • Greener building materials: Exposing design tools. Poster presented at SETAC North America 2019 in Toronto.
  • Commoning safer chemicals: Socially robust knowledge in green chemistry? [pdf] Presented at 4S 2019 in New Orleans.
  • Knowledge commons for green chemistry. [pdf] Presented at Pacifichem 2015 in Honolulu.

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