David J. Hess is a professor in the Sociology Department at Vanderbilt University, the James Thornton Fant Chair of Sustainability Studies, and Director of Environmental and Sustainability Studies.

His research and teaching is on the sociology, anthropology, and policy studies of science, technology, health, and the environment. He is the recipient of the Robert K. Merton Prize, the Diana Forsythe Prize, the Star-Nelkin Prize (shared with coauthors),the William H. Wiley Distinguished Faculty Award, and the General Anthropology Division Prize for Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship. He is currently a co-PI on the NSF grant “Science of Design for Societal-Scale Cyber-Physical Systems,” which involves theintegration of cross-national and interdisciplinary perspectives on drones, automated vehicles, and digital energy.

Talk: Social Movements and Knowledge: Exploring the Interfaces of Technology Design, Expertise, and Interdisciplinary Collaboration

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Abstract: From Extinction Rebellion and flight shaming to the popular pressure to create Facebook’s oversight board, activists have always interacted with –and had an impact on– the design, development, acceptance, and legislation of technology. How do mobilized publics impact technology, and how do concerned scholars assist this process?

Dr. David Hess has worked to integrate social movement studies (SMS) with science and technology studies (STS), most notably around environmental and sustainability issues. In this talk, he will outline the social scientific study of social movements, their similarities to and differences from civil society advocacy, and the relationship between these forms of “mobilized publics” and scientific expertise and technology. Next, Hess will discuss some of his work on movements and civil society organizations that attempt to change industrial practices and technology, with examples drawn from emerging technologies in the energy and transportation sectors. In particular, how have values defined and articulated by mobilized publics (such as in favor of increased safety, equity, sustainability, and privacy) been used as starting points for defining interdisciplinary collaborations between social scientists and computer scientists in international research and teaching projects? Finally, he’ll discuss how the concepts of responsible innovation (RRI) and sociotechnical systems have become important for funders of research and curriculum development. Specific systems discussed will include connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) and digital demand management (DDM) for electricity.