Futurescape City Tours launch successful Phoenix pilot

December 3, 2012

This fall, researchers at CNS-ASU launched the Futurescape City Tours (FCT), a novel approach to engaging citizens with issues of technology and society. FCT is the next iteration of our research on public deliberation, building on the National Citizens’ Technology Forum (NCTF) conducted in 2008. The focus for the tours is on equity and urban sustainability in relation to nanotechnology in the city. 

For this research, citizens of Phoenix explored the past, present and future of the city through media and deliberation. The citizens walked downtown Phoenix and visited several sites--the Arizona Science Center, the Biosciences High School, Aside of Heart Cafe, and the Grand Canal--taking photographs and field notes to track their concerns and curiosities. They met with city officials, research scientists, business leaders, and local administrators to engage in discussions about alternative futures, trade-offs and societal choices.

This project presented several core questions for participants to consider:

  • Sustainability and equity: How can new technologies support desirable futures?
  • Making technology visible: How can we better notice taken for granted technological systems in the city?
  • Capacity building for anticipatory governance: What skills are necessary to be involved in the development of new technologies and bridge the divide between experts and citizens?

Following the tours, the photos and notes taken by the particiapnts on the tour were collected and analyzed. They were then printed and presented in a gallery space in downtown Phoenix during its First Friday event, a monthly public art walk that features many galleries in the area. The hope behind the exhibit is to spread the thoughts and lessons learned on the tours to as many citizens as possible. You can view photos from the tour and the exhibit on our Flickr page.

In partnership with several other academic organizations, FCT will be expanding to 8 cities nationwide in Fall 2013.

The FCT team: Cynthia Selin (CSPO and the School of Sustainability), Kelly Rawlings (ASU Public Affairs) and Kathryn de Ridder-Vignone (Center for Nanotechnology in Society), and graduate students Carlo Altamirano, Mindy Kimball and Jathan Sadowski.

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