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2017 STS Making and Doing Program

Meeting Home | Making & Doing Main | Making and Doing 2017 | Category: Design and Planning Pedagogy STS Infrastructures

STS Design and Innovation: Disciplinary Discomfiture

Nieusma, Dean, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


James Malazita, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Interdisciplinary collaboration through design provides many instances that can make participants feel uneasy with their disciplinary identity and worldview. This applies equally to students and instructors, and can be used to create productive tension but can also result in defensive boundary maintenance. Rensselaer’s interdisciplinary Programs in Design and Innovation (PDI) is a set of undergraduate dual-major programs combining a range of technical/professional majors with an STS-styled design degree program called Design, Innovation, and Society. PDI brings STS to the worlds of engineering, computer science, business management, and communications—all via design education and practice. The goals of the initiative include: 1) extending the reach of STS teaching and scholarship beyond the audience of undergraduate students who enroll in traditional STS courses; 2) expanding the influence of the STS Department at Rensselaer by increasing our number of undergraduate majors; and 3) reflexively and most challengingly, confronting our own disciplinary boundaries and comfort zones as STS scholars within a prototypical technological university. Whereas our 2015 Making and Doing presentation on PDI attended primarily to the program’s curriculum and pedagogy—sequenced design studios that center on solution-posing project work and learning-by-doing STS in “real-time” throughout the technology design process—this year our session will focus on outcomes of the program in terms of educational output, educational research activities and findings, and reflections on how the program sits uncomfortably at the intersection of STS (as traditionally understood), engineering/technical design, and creative design. We will emphasize our efforts over the past couple of years to draw attention to this discomfort—rather than attempting to resolve it—as a mechanism for interrogating disciplinary assumptions in all three of the program’s constituent disciplines: STS, engineering, and design. We will attempt the answer the question, “What does it mean to do STS (in an interdisciplinary design context)?” in a way that extends beyond undergraduate education per se and engages other disciplinary problem-solving approaches on their own terms and in their full richness. We will also share some of the challenges faced by the program in terms of managing disciplinary content and participant identity in a design program embedded wholly within an STS Department.

Browse 2017 Projects

Alac: STS Olfactorium

Battles: The Trial Balloon: buoyancy, embodied media, and patchy planetarity

Callahan: Rethinking Citizen Science through doing Citizen Science

Cardoso Llach: Tracing Design Ecologies

Clement: Snowden Surveillance Archive

Cohen: Toward Improving Public Policy for Struct Engrg Design of Bridge, Transport & Marine Infrastructure

Durnova: Politicizing the scientific self through media interventions

Erickson-Davis: What it is to see: a simulation of artificial vision

Gluzman: Feminist Theory Theater

Gomez-Marquez: Construction Sets for DIY Medical Technologies and their Black Box Counterparts

Hidalgo: Collaborative Research Toolkit: a copyleft resource for the co-design of research processes

Hoagland: Getting a Sense of the Place: Navigating FemTechNet’s Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Workbook

Houston: Collaborative urban sensing with the “Dustbox” air quality monitor

Howell: Emotional Interpretation & Materiality of Biosensing

Johnson: Engineering Comes Home: Co-designing local infrastructure with residents of a London housing estate

Kennedy: Doing STS at the science/policy intersection

Knopes: Integrating STS into Bioethics and Medical Humanities Programs

Lachney: Generative STEM: Circulating Unalienated Value in Education, Labor and Environment

Lawson: (T)racing Eyes and Hearts:  An Installation to Explore the Physiology of Empathy

Lehr: Undergraduate STSers Learn by Doing in the Trump Era

Lippman: Making Sensible in 360°

Michails: AirTRACS: Community-based Air Quality Monitoring

Mogul: A STS STEM Education Incubator: The Co-Making of Inquiry

Mohsin: QEERI’s Science Majlis

Murphy: Environmental Data and Governance Initiative: Engaged STS Responding to the U.S.Administration

Nafus: Data Sense

Navarro: Our Driverless Futures: Speculating Moral Dilemmas of Self-Driving Cars

Nieusma: STS Design and Innovation: Disciplinary Discomfiture

Onaga: Biomaterial Matters: Fitting Humans into Cocoons, A Speculative Prototype

Ostman: STS approaches to public engagement with science: Synthetic biology

Ostrowski: The Empirical Printing Program

Perez Comisso: Technological theory for all: Teaching experiments on STS in Chile

Rosado Murillo: Pedal Transcriba, an Ethnographic Device of (and for) Qualitative Research

Shapiro: Detoxifying the environment across temporalities

Steensen: Face-off! Platform versus Self: A photobooth experiment

Stern: Zika and Feminist STS: Building a Network, Doing Collective Scholarship

Taylor: Connecting-Probing-Reflecting Spaces: The New England Workshop on Science and Social Change (NewSSC)

Terrell: The making of an undergraduate Sociotechnical Ethics Society

Wentworth: Handholds: making sense of bodies through slaughter

Wong: Design Workbook Variations: Exploring Biosensing Privacy Futures

Wylie: Making and Doing STS with Undergraduate Engineers: The UVA Approach