Engaged STS for inclusive development: exploring concepts, practices, networks, and policies towards inclusive and sustainable futures
Location M215
Date and Start Time 02 September, 2016 at 16:00
Sessions 3


  • Hernan Thomas (Universidad Nacional de Quilmes) email
  • Gabriela Bortz (Universidad Nacional de Quilmes) email

Mail All Convenors

Chair Gabriela Bortz
Discussant Milena Serafim (UNICAMP, 1), Olga Ustyuzhantseva (Tomsk State National Research University)

Short Abstract

This session aims to problematise knowledge and technology production alternatives towards inclusive and sustainable development, building solutions for community development and to the extended deficit of access to basic goods, through empirical analysis, theoretical reflection, and policy debate.

Long Abstract

In recent years a consensus has grown between scholars, civil society actors, and policy-makers about the role that Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) may play in the construction of solutions to social exclusion problems, providing alternative pathways for inclusive and sustainable development. This interest has spread both in the global north and the global south, being promoted by international institutions like OECD, IDB, World Bank, IDRC, and some national governments in Latin America and Asia, who have implemented inclusive innovation programmes and supporting pre-existing initiatives.

However, despite this general agreement, what is innovation for inclusive and sustainable development is still as a contested ground between different definitions, approaches, visions, knowledge framings, and institutional and technological strategies, operating through heterogeneous networks of social movements, R&D units, international aid agencies, NGOs, governments, unions, and firms. The STS field constitutes a fruitful space to problematize knowledge and technology production alternatives and to contribute with empirical analysis, theoretical reflection, and policy debate.

Interested in addressing institutional and policy analysis, processes and organization, as well studies on artefactual design and production, this track welcomes papers on the following issues:

•Inclusive and sustainable development, concepts and visions: Innovation vs. technological change. Inclusive innovation as outcome and as process. Palliative initiatives vs. systemic approaches.

•Knowledge production and the politics of knowledge: grassroots and informal knowledge, material and cognitive practices. R&D agendas, knowledge dialog and negotiation.

•STI policies: promotion and evaluation processes, explicit and implicit agendas. Institutional strategies. Decision making processes and multi-actor participation.


This track is closed to new paper proposals.


Exploring knowledge sustainability: strategies of rural grassroot organizations as change agents

Author: Alejandro Balanzo (University of Twente)  email

Short Abstract

Rural grassroots organisations strive to steer local and sectorial realms towards sustainability. I discuss their strategies, addressing knowledge flows. Knowledge sustainability appears a plausible way to address overlapping fields and linkages of practice, boundaries and institutions.

Long Abstract

Few works describe how—and to what extent—rural grassroots organisations strive to steer local and sectorial realms in the pursuit of sustainable visions of rural life. This paper discusses rural grassroots organisations' strategies as change agents, specifically addressing knowledge flows taking place on their endeavour.

The paper reports on results of an abductive research. Its empirical base draws on a multi-sited case research, built in collaboration with forty-four Colombian smallholder cocoa producer's organizations. Data relates to historical and current accounts of organisations' meso-level relations.

The theoretical approach I have used recurs to a knowledge-repertoire perspective, following stances of intertwinement amongst practice, boundaries and institutions. This approach used capacity development policy as a starting point, as a knowledge reference. This policy tool was unpacked and then its rationale used to build a theoretical approach addressing meso-level agency. A STS approach, plus institutional work, innovation intermediation and sociology of practice streams lay scholar foundations for the exercise.

My research results point to the various overlapping fields that organisations deal with to stabilise a field of practice in an institutional volatile context: markets, grassroot identity, rural development, productive sector affairs and local public affairs. These fields' various knowledge contents and knowledge-based processes emerging simultaneously.

Rural grassroots organisations aim to set community-directed practices; to define, keep and bridge boundaries; and to build self-governing institutions. These processes bring to the surface knowledge sustainability as a complex phenomenon worth exploring, as a means to better address and understand complementary realms to overarching change towards sustainability.

Grassroots innovation in Russian context: prospects and implications

Author: Olga Ustyuzhantseva (Tomsk State National Research University)  email

Short Abstract

The paper considers Russian grassroots innovations within this multi-factoral context defining its specifics, environment and place in NIS. It examines innovation policy, degree of its inclusiveness and the extent to which needs of the grassroots people are targeted and/or supported in this policy

Long Abstract

Grassroots innovation (GRI) phenomena sparks increasing interest in science circles. Researches of various countries are engaged in describing, analysing and conceptualising this occurrence. Based on these researches it's possible to define basic factors, triggers and environment of GRI development in low- and middle-income countries, such as large informal sector of economy and high poverty level as main environment for GRI generation; shortage of resources or access to it (i.e. water, food, energy) as a factor of GRI demand; existence/creation of infrastructure for GRI promotion with active participation of government, academic sector and business.

GRI concepts applied for developed as well as developing countries may have limited application for describtion GRI activity occuring in Russia. Limited size of informal sector in Russia, low absolute poverty level and sufficient share of highly educated population put Russia apart from GRI environment/triggers/demands inherent to developing countries. Weak civil society, «narrow» public policy in S&T and innovation development, lack of interaction between society and government in this field distinct Russian case from European or American ones.

The paper considers Russian GRI within this multi-factoral context defining its specifics, environment and place in NIS. It examines innovation policy, degree of its inclusiveness and the extent to which needs of the grassroots people are targeted and/or supported in this policy. Based on the selected case studies, expert interviews and policy documents analysis, prospects and implications for GRI development and policy interventions in this field are summarized.

How do actors construct their own tools?

Author: Flore Guiffault (School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

This presentation aims to define and understand the mechanisms actors use to construct their own geotools in order to build a risk management system in Haiti.

Long Abstract

Managing « natural » risks is seen as a major systemic issue to improve, in the long-term, living conditions of communities, especially of the most vulnerable ones. Methods and models are produced by international agencies such as UNISDR to help INGOs and local institutions to manage risks. Among them, geotools are defined as neutral and scientific tools. However, the proliferation of actors who gather around those projects create frictions.

Taking actors' critics as a starting point, my approach aims to highlight the mechanisms that risks managers use to construct innovations they need to build a risk management system in Haiti. The actors critics show that their resources such as status, networks, technical knowledge, funds and accessibility to information allow them to constantly re-define and co-construct the uses and productions of geodata. The ability of both producers and users to play a role in the construction and in the application of geotools not only depends on their actual resources but also on their ability to keep or acquire new resources accordingly to the geopolitical context.

Despite the negotiations, conflicts, alliances and compromises that actors do, these tools are still seen as neutral and scientific in reports. This de-politization of geotools allows some of them to express their critics out loud to have an effective effect on the definition of risk management while others have to express it off the records.

Opening the 'black box' of participation in technologies for inclusive development: analyzing user involvement, techno-cognitive dynamics and decision making processes

Authors: Gabriela Bortz (Universidad Nacional de Quilmes)  email
Hernan Thomas (Universidad Nacional de Quilmes)  email

Short Abstract

This paper aims to open the ‘black box’ of participation in the construction of technologies and policies for inclusive development. It presents conceptual tools for understanding participatory dynamics and promoting heterogeneous actor involvement in techno-cognitive management and decision making.

Long Abstract

There is a growing consensus among inclusive innovation scholars, activists and policy makers about the need to promote broad actor involvement in technology building. However, what is understood by "participation" is still vague: the lax use of the term does not specify the scope and modalities of such involvement, becoming an imperative of "political correctness" but with little analytical precision. Understanding and designing technologies and policies for inclusive development that may go beyond technology fix approaches (inclusion as an outcome) to systemic problem-solving approaches, building local capacities and empowering actors (inclusion as a process), requires to move towards conceptual specificity in the analysis of participatory dynamics.

This paper aims to open the black box of participation by presenting an analytical approach for its operationalization. Participation is defined here as "the ability to influence on techno-cognitive decision-making", building bridges between the politics of knowledge, technology management strategies and user involvement analyses. Based on the case study of the "Yogurito Escolar", a probiotic yoghurt aimed to solve malnutrition-led diseases in Tucuman province (Argentina) that shaped a high-scale alimentary policy, and a theoretical approach that triangulates socio-technical analysis with public participation literature, we present a multi-linear model for mapping participatory dynamics "in action", based on three variables: participating actors (who participates?), modalities (how?), and timing (when?). Additionally, we revise the concept of user-producer relations as a co-construction process between actors and artifacts in order to discuss knowledge and technology management strategies devised to include heterogeneous actors in techno-cognitive construction and decision making.

Atoms for Development: Are nanotechnologies capable of generating dynamics of social inclusion?

Author: Tomás Carrozza (National University of Mar del Plata)  email

Short Abstract

This paper tries to analyze the scope and capabilities of the nanotechnologies for generating dynamics of social inclusion in Argentina.

Long Abstract

The Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (N&N) has a central place in the policy agendas of science and technology in Argentina. Currently, the public sector invests in different programs, a considerable amount of resources to boost R&D in this sector.

Similarly, the STI agenda aims to strengthen the Technology-Social Inclusion relationship. In this context appears a set of proposals, which through different strategies sought to associate the use of N&N in solving problems of inclusive and sustainable development. These projects were mostly directed to the animal health sector and environmental issues.

In this scenario, the aim of this paper is -from a constructivist and socio-technical perspective- to analyze the scope and capabilities of the N&N for generating dynamics of social inclusion. This work base the analysis in the Argentinian experiences of the last decade.

The analysis of experiences shows that the policy instruments promoted by science and technology agencies have tried to seek solutions to social and environmental issues. These were positive in the generation of knowledge, skills, and learning. Also, generate links between different public scientific institutions, but these experiences fail to move in the later stages of the R+D process. This problem is reflected in few articulations with potential users. Also, these experiences are punctual and scattered. Finally, there is no effort from these institutions in try to use N&N in the resolution of national strategic issues.

New Ways to Measure Scientific Research Impact As a Push Towards Social Innovation and Social Development. an Analysis of Argentina's Projects for Technological and Social Development.

Author: Mauro Alonso (Universidad de Buenos Aires )  email

Short Abstract

This paper’s main goal is to present an innovative tool of scientific research policy in Argentina: the “Projects for Technological and Social Development” (2012).

Long Abstract

Since 1980 there has been a broad debate among scientists contesting the idea that science research and therefore scientific knowledge was not being "useful" enough to promote social development. In this debate some authors stated that the "social function" of science -in words of Michael Polanyi- must be revisited, especially for emerging and underdeveloped countries. The main key is to introduce new ways of bridging the gap between scientific knowledge and its use as an input towards social development.

In Argentina, the main challenge towards achieving this new "researcher profile", was to dispute both research agendas in this global context and to endure new research topics attached to specific social demands. Additionally, there has been an attempt to also introduce new ways of evaluating scientists that are not only based in publications as a mechanism to overcome the "publish of perish" phenomenon as the main way of measuring scientific performance.

Argentina's government in this context is specially focused in giving scientific knowledge a main role as an input for social development, and rethinking the position of the country's scientific public institutions by taking a more active role in defining science policies.

This paper picks up the debate between "basic" and "applied" science, the discussion about "autonomy" and "social relevance" of scientific research as a theoretical background and also includes recent theories that aim to revisit and discuss the social function by introducing a new theorical approach known as "knowledge mobilization" that presents a new and complex mean of making scientific knowledge more useful, proactive and applied.

Perceptions of stakeholders about Brazil's National STI conference

Author: Milena Serafim (University of Campinas - UNICAMP)  email

Short Abstract

This paper seeks to identify, based on a multicriterial survey, the perceptions of stakeholders about the organizational-procedural and the participatory decision-making processes on Brazil's national STI conference.

Long Abstract

In Brazil, despite some recent progress, public participation and engagement in governance processes related to STI is still limited. This may be explained by a number of factors, involving issues related to education in general, limited information and the distribution of power amongst stakeholders.

Aiming to contribute to the studies of deliberative democracy and to provide a better understanding of the dynamics that shape the Brazilian National STI Conference (CNCTI), this research seeks to identify and analyze, based on a multicriterial survey, the perceptions of stakeholders about the organizational-procedural and the participatory decision-making processes on the conference. The survey (structured along the lines of a Likert scale with opposite and forced choice questions) identifies the participants' perceptions on several topics related to the Conference's organization, the profile of attendants, participation and representation, spaces of dissent, conflicting perspectives etc.

Preliminary results indicate that the organization of conferences changes with each of its editions. While the first and second conferences were significantly rigid, centralized and limited to specific groups of invited academics, responsible for producing position papers on the topics to be discussed. The 3rd Conference was a bit more open and drew from earlier discussions held at the state level through preparatory meetings. However, we do observe what one might call a selective decentralization of the organization, through which only a few states were invited to send representatives. Thus, we argue, there are still many challenges to overcome - most of which Conference participants are well aware of.

Engineering By Other Means: How the marginalized knowledges of low-income engineers contribute to sustainable community development

Authors: Juan Lucena (Colorado School of Mines)  email
Jessica Smith (Colorado School of Mines)  email

Short Abstract

This paper draws on ethnographic research with low income students to explore the relevance for engineering for community development of students’ funds of knowledge or the knowledge and skills that working class families possess to survive and make a living in the midst of economic dislocations

Long Abstract

Engineering for sustainable community development (SCD) is a rapidly growing field of practice and education, as evidenced by the success of groups such as Engineers Without Borders (EWB) (Ingenieros Sin Fronteras) in many countries of the Global North and the Global South. Yet engineering educators rarely ask how students' backgrounds might make a difference for how students find motivation for, conceptualize and practice SCD. How might these backgrounds shape the kinds of questions that are asked or the ways in which problems are defined and solved? This paper draws on ethnographic research with low income, first generation (LIFG) students at an engineering university and community college in Colorado to explore the relevance for engineering of the students' funds of knowledge, a term that refers to bodies of knowledge and skills that working class families possess to survive and make a living even in the midst of economic dislocations. Specifically, we find that by virtue of their background experiences, LIFG students develop funds of knowledge in designing and solving problems in the midst of scarcity, empathizing, and recognizing the sociotechnical nature of engineering problem definition, solving and design. These funds of knowledge position them to excel in engineering for SCD, but they must first be converted into different forms of capital with high exchange rates within engineering.

The citizen participation in the case of GMO in Brazil.

Author: María Luísa Nozawa Ribeiro (Universidade Federal de São Carlos)  email

Short Abstract

This paper aims to present and discuss the theories of public participation in order to understand the context of the public GMO (Genetic Modified Organisms) policies in Brazil, highlighting the characteristics of its configuration and the dialog with the experts.

Long Abstract

This paper aims to present the theories of public participation in order to understand the context of the public GMO (Genetic Modified Organisms) policies in Brazil, highlighting the characteristics of its configuration and the dialog with the experts. As a controversy subject, the commercialization of GMO provoked manifestation of some popular and environmental representative groups questioning the decisions of policy makers and experts on the matter. Many aspects and consequences of the plantation and consumption of this crops emerged and the safety of this technology was questioned. Environmentalists, Civil Right's movement, representatives of rural workers, farmers and organics producers, etc. demonstrated their point of view, also sustained by some experts of medical, genetical, environmental, agronomical sciences, etc. fields. Despite this movement, the precautionary principle (risk management), implemented in 1987, suggested precaution facing new technologies and innovations in the sustainable development society. This principle influenced many legislation and regulation on GMO around the world, including Brazil, which became a reference among the world regulatory GMO systems. The Brazilian legislation ensures the citizens participation on GMO discussion, characteristic that was important to establish the connection between the subject and the participation theory. These deliberation spaces materialized in Brazil through the "Audiências Públicas", which are managed by the National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio), department responsible for controlling the research, production and commercialization of GMOs in Brazil. Some of the authors used in this paper are Massimiano Bucchi, Federico Neresini, Sheila Jasanoff, Alan Irwin, Gene Rowe, Leonardo Avritzer, Silvio Funtowicz and Jerome Ravetz.

Disruptive technologies and sustainable community development: A communicative ecologies perspective

Authors: Amalia Sabiescu (RMIT Europe)  email
Jo Tacchi (RMIT University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper offers a theoretical analysis of the role of disruptive technologies in sustainable community development, from a communicative ecologies perspective. It contributes conceptual and design insights for the design and evaluation of community development interventions.

Long Abstract

Development as a process implies transformation, it shatters the status quo. Sustainable development, on the other hand, embodies notions of continuity into the future and with respect to existing forms and processes. Disruptive technologies, akin to disruptive innovations, are likewise transformative: they shift power balances, endanger existing and create new markets, value chains and technology support infrastructures.

This contribution employs communicative ecologies as a conceptual lens to examine the role of disruptive technologies in sustainable community development. In an ecological approach, notions of disruption and sustainability are not opposite, but integrated: disruption is natural in the process of growth and change, but for the system to survive, there needs to be an opportune connection between past and present, which can ensure continuity and therefore sustainability of the life form.

The paper focuses on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) interventions in community settings that are disruptive with respect to the status quo and asks: How can we design ICT interventions for sustainable community development that seek to introduce novel, potentially disruptive technologies? A structured analysis and theorisation of processes around ICT integration and local appropriation is offered, drawing on selected development projects from our own experience and the literature, which have employed communicative ecologies as an analytical, programme or evaluation design tool.

The paper addresses the track theme of innovation vs. technological change in inclusive and sustainable development. The main contribution to knowledge is a theorisation of the role of disruptive technologies in sustainable community development from a communicative ecologies perspective.

Ethical dilemmas in wind-farm planning. On scale, norms and value-sets.

Author: Katinka Johansen (DTU- Technical University of Denmark)  email

Short Abstract

With the case of wind-farm planning in Denmark this research strives to explore existing ethical dilemmas played out in the policy field of friction between state ambitions for sustainability and local life-words.

Long Abstract

The academic meta-'stuff' of this conference paper is inspired by applied research on the social/planning dimensions of the Danish experience with wind-farm construction and development. While national policies target sustainability in many cases the broader public still hesitate to accept the construction of existing green technological infrastructure (Jolivet & Heiskanen 2010; Bergek 2010). Like wind-turbines.

One could argue that we are dealing with the utilitarian principle of the greatest good for the greatest number of people (Børsen & Danborg 2015; 87) when speaking of wind-farm development. But this does not diminish the real grievance felt by local populations in such a context. In this conflict lies an inherent ethical dilemma: Issues of different levels of power and questions of individual and local autonomy (ibid.) are at stake.

With the case of wind-farm planning in Denmark the research ambition here is to illuminate existing ethical dilemmas played out in this policy field of friction between clashing value-sets and norms (Recke 2011) reflecting the conflicting scales of national political ideals and local life-worlds. This research does not question the moral imperative to act (Rawson 2013; 3) regarding the increasingly accepted realities of climate change - or the immediate chosen government route for that change . But it will underscore the need for an applied philosophical approach to such inherent dilemmas in policy decisions.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.