I am very early in my project development, and I have not articulated questions for my project either. I think I am clearer at this point about my longer research program than a specific PhD project. I am hoping to make the connection backwards--figuring out my place in the world as a researcher and what my commitments are and then designing a PhD project that reflects those commitments. So here is my list in the order of what I have been thinking about most recently to what I think I would feel really good about if I am able to do them.
Understanding science pedagogy and research infrastructures that respond to discursive gaps
Politics and tactics of collaboration: I want this to be an cross-cutting question throughout my research program
Transnational STS: I still don’t know what I mean by that but I think it is partly figuring out the “sites” of my research program and partly designing my research program to be relevant across scales and responsive through time.
Some specific questions I have been thinking with for some time:
How do progressive scientific and environmental justice movements incorporate visions of social change or social justice?
How do we interface between scientific and political education while questioning assumptions of secular liberalism undergirding pedagogy in general?
What legacies of advocacy and pedagogy do we learn from?
Things I want to do in the next 5 years or so
Think with graduate students about how to intervene in science pedagogy: What is required of us at this moment? What can we do?
Topics, issues, questions, and places that I hope to research over the next 50 years:
Potentially ethnographic projects
The aesthetics of biodesign, biomimicry, and other design practices that seek to “reconcile” the environment and technology; how these are grounded in specific ontologies and liberal political histories
Comparing different modes of design and technological practice that seek to incorporate specific normative virtues or aims at a representational rather than operational level: e.g. ethnocentric design, non-functional biomimicry, performative parametricism, etc.
Role of digital renderings, visualizations, prototypes, and speculative design exhibitions in generating “hype” around sustainable technologies and imaginary futures; economic and material impacts of these devices and imaginaries
20th/21st century shifts from “environmentalism” towards new frameworks, like “sustainability” or “climate justice”; political relevance of these re-framings
Role of sustainability discourse and related technologies in green gentrification and xenophobia (and emerging eco-facism), accelerating as climate impacts become more clear
Mass timber, tall timber and developments in agroforestry. Earth construction. Various attempts to “scale” the Natural building movement and similar practices to industrial levels
Comparing systems of mediating materiality, from embodied carbon calculations and logistics management software to language and religious beliefs
Radical plant-based medicine movements and how they navigate colonial histories through peer education
Attempts to cultivating “material literacy” and supply chain visibility
Broad theoretical and historical problems; institutional goals
Design and Politics
Tastes, aesthetics, and visual cultures related to the historical idea of nature; intersectional approaches to these
History of environmental design in conversation with histories of cybernetics, architecture, modernist design, and empire
Thinking about the historical co-incidence of the rise of computation, environmental crises, and decolonization
Materiality/immateriality as a central problematic in media studies, environmental studies, and critical theory (technology and content, form and meaning, nature and culture, presence and representation)
Work to incorporate STS and the history of environmental thought into engineering and/or commercial design education (encouraging people to provincialize and contextualize certain values around environment and technology)
Often unacknowledged role of social movements, particularly resistance to European colonialism but also feminism and early environmentalism, in driving theory and epistemology in the western academy (for instance, their influences on post-structuralism, early STS, and the ontological turn)
Putting formalist media theory into conversation with the previous point
Future of the university vis-a-vis tuition costs, debt, and social stratification. Ethics of teaching practice and curriculum development? New models of university education not predicated on education as private consumer good?
Role of any of these research topics in degrowth and paradigm shifts needed to address current forms of harm