4S Annual Meeting
October 9 – 12, 2013
San Diego, California
Panel: “New Data Relationalities: Publics, Practices, and Subjectivities in Environmental Governance”
Scientific and political processes of environmental governance are experiencing a rapid increase in the incorporation of aggregating, modeling, and visualization technologies to make sense of complex and heterogeneous data sets. But how the incorporation of such technologies impact scientific practices and their respective subjects in environmental governance deserves greater attention. This is especially the case in light of parallel calls for transparency in how large data sets become operationalized. Too often, such data are assumed to be able to speak for themselves. The need for careful interpretation and recognition of the situatedness and meaning-making processes around data is often seen as superfluous. However, everyday interaction with new data manipulating technologies can transform the ways in which we understand subject formation across stakeholder communities. STS is in a position to unpack these technoscientific and sociopolitical spaces by interrogating the politics of knowledge production deployed around large data sets.
New ways of understanding knowledge production around complex data create a number of tensions. For example, where citizen science groups become increasingly involved in gathering pollution data, such developments can generate conflicts between creating local empowerment through participatory environmental science, and amplifying the importance of complex data in making public knowledge claims. Similarly, increased availability of large data sets foregrounds the reliance on environmental modeling tools as a viable way to produced knowledge within scientific institutions and government agencies tasked with regulatory responsibilities. In the case of air quality scientists, for instance, data modeling tools produce new challenges, such as how air quality might be evaluated and predicted over areas larger than the regional scale. This becomes increasingly controversial in the face of recent attacks against the knowledge claims of air climate scientists.
Relevant questions that must be posed to the increase in aggregating, modeling, and visualization technologies for environmental governance include: what makes the outputs of these technologies valuable? How is working with complex data sets altering notions of scientific practice and truth claims? How do different approaches to data manipulation affect the capacity of certain subjects to define and control the uses of their contributed scientific knowledge? This panel will explore recent work that seeks possible answers to these questions in the context of environmental governance. We welcome explorations that span complex data practices in all institutional and sociopolitical spaces, but we are particularly interested in how these questions are interrogated at the boundaries.
Please send a 250 word abstract and contact information to panel co-organizers Erik Bigras (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kirk Jalbert (email@example.com) by March 12th
Science and Technology Studies
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Science and Technology Studies
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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