Description

Science and technology policies in many nations are placing new pressures on laboratories to address broader societal dimensions of their work in ways that have the potential to influence the content of science and engineering activities themselvespresumably for the better. Despite longstanding calls for collaborations between natural and human scientists to achieve this goal, neither the capacity of laboratories to respond to such pressures nor the role that interdisciplinary collaborations may play in enhancing responsiveness is well understood or empirically supported. It is crucial to overcome these limitations in order to design, implement, and assess effective programs aimed at responsible innovation. To address these limitations, we propose a coordinated set of twenty laboratory engagement studies (Fisher 2007c) to assess and compare the varying pressures onand capacities forlaboratories to integrate broader societal considerations into their work. Ten doctoral students will each conduct two paired laboratory studies that extend more traditional ethnographies by engaging researchers in semistructured interactions designed to enhance reflection upon research decisions in light of broader considerations (please see lab directors letters of support). The objectives of the STIR (Socio-Technical Integration Research) project as a whole, as well as each paired study, are: to identify and compare external expectations and demands for laboratories to engage in responsible innovation; assess and compare the current responsiveness of laboratory practices to these pressures; and investigate and compare how interdisciplinary collaborations may assist in elucidating, enhancing, or stimulating responsiveness. Students will base their studies on a protocol developed by PI Fisher during a previous thirty-three month laboratory engagement study. This study provides preliminary evidence that such activities as proposed here enable laboratory work to become more sensitive to its potential societal implications, without compromising laboratory research, education, or strategic goals (Fisher 2007b). The STIR project will investigate whether these results are applicable across a diverse and globally distributed range of labs and in a less time- and labor-intensive manner. The PI will work closely with students, advisors, and laboratory directors through training workshops, working visits to each site, and regular video-conferencing. Students will each conduct two lab studies; participate in three workshops staged throughout the project; present research findings in a professional conference session; and contribute a chapter to a collection edited by the PI and Co-PI. may
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date4/1/093/31/14

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $543,030.00

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