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Engineering Studies: Futures


In his inaugural editorial as the new Editor-in-Chief of Engineering Studies, Cyrus Mody suggests the field of engineering studies will continue to be oriented by two main thrusts for some time:

  1. the much-needed but contested diversification of both engineering and engineering studies, and
  2. the growing maginitude and the possible intractability of the societal challenges to which engineers contibute (for better or worse) 

Key focal areas for Engineering Studies that further specify these broad orientations, according to Mody, include:


[G]ender has been of growing interest in STS, history of technology, sociology, and other fields allied with engineering studies for some time. But we are now also at a moment when public debates about the gender and sexuality dimensions of engineering and technology - e.g. about Silicon Valley "brogrammer culture" - offer an invitation to academic engineering studies scholars. 


Engineering Studies is notable for having had a relatively global focus from the beginning, where related journals have had to move some distance to incorporate topics and authors outside the Global North.  Asia, and increasingly Latin America, are now unexceptional – if still underrepresented – places in and for engineering studies research.  But much of the world still appears too rarely in the pages of this journal and its peers.  We should, I hope, expect more work from and about Africa, Oceania, and a few other corners of the world in Engineering Studies in coming years.


Engineering studies [...] risks a long decline if the field focuses too exclusively on the credentialed members of the engineering profession. I would advocate that we interpret “engineering studies” in a broad sense – i.e., that we ask what credentialed and uncredentialed engineers have in common, what work is accomplished by differentiating between them, and what we can learn about the engineering profession from scholarship on crafters, hobbyists, user communities, indigenous experts, and others who make do with uncredentialed technological knowledge. And vice versa – engineering studies has much to contribute to those literatures in return.


The question of our time is climate change.  That’s a truth which Engineering Studies is just now adapting to.  Practicing engineers have already made the turn, as have scholars in related fields of STS, history of technology, and the nascent community of energy humanities.  Engineers were/are central figures in the creation of the Anthropocene, the recognition of climate change as a problem (and the war against that recognition), and in formulating responses to climate change.


[T]here is a long tradition of engineering practitioners, e.g. Walter Vincenti, turning toward philosophy; and of course there is also a long tradition of philosophers teaching engineering ethics courses. But we are now seeing increasing interest among philosophers in applying their discipline’s concepts to aspects of engineering other than ethics, as well as to a broadening of “ethics” to include things like participatory design. Engineering Studies should encourage that move, while also encouraging philosophers of engineering to take into account developments in STS, history, sociology, and other constituent fields of engineering studies.

Mody 2018: 7-9


Creative Commons Licence



Created date

August 7, 2018

Critical Commentary

This text outlines future areas of publication that incoming editor, Cyrus Mody, envisions as being particularly prominent in the journal Engineering Studies.


Adopted from New EIC Editorial by Cyrus Mody.



Group Audience