The integrative expert: Moral, epistemic, and poietic virtues in transformation research

Michael Poznic, Erik Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Over the past 50 years, policy makers have sought to shape new and emerging technologies in light of societal risks, public values, and ethical concerns. While much of this work has taken place during “upstream” research prioritization and “downstream” technology regulation, the actual “midstream” work of engineers and other technical experts has increasingly been seen as a site for governing technology in society. This trend towards “socio-technical integration” is reflected in various governance frameworks such as Sustainable Development (SD), Technology Assessment (TA), and Responsible Innovation (RI) that are at the center of transformation research. Discussions around SD, TA, and RI often focus on meso-and macro-level processes and dynamics, with less attention paid to the qualities of individuals that are needed to support transformation processes. We seek to highlight the importance of micro-level practices by drawing attention to the virtues of technical experts. Drawing on empirical study results from embedding philosophical-reflective dialogues within science and engineering laboratories, we claim that poietic, as well as moral and epistemic, virtues belong to those required of technical experts who foster integrative practices in transformation research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10416
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • Engineering practice
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Responsible innovation
  • Socio-technical integration
  • Transformation research
  • Virtues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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