Relevant Publications and Exhibitions

Last Updated: May 04, 2015

  1. Background Publications
  2. Publications as a Result of FCT 2012
  3. Future Publications (FCT 2013)
  4. 2013 Exhibitions

Background Publications

Barben, D., E. Fisher, C. Selin, and D. H. Guston. “Anticipatory Governance of Nanotechnology: Foresight, Engagement, and Integration.” The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (2007): 979.

Davies, Sarah R., Cynthia Selin, Gretchen Gano, and Ângela Guimarães Pereira. “Citizen Engagement and Urban Change: Three Case Studies of Material Deliberation.” Cities 29, no. 6 (December 2012): 351–357. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2011.11.012.

Davis, Sarah R., Cynthia Selin, Gretchen Gano, and Ângela Guimarães Pereira.  "Finding Futures:  A Spatio-Visual Experiment in Paticipatory Engagement."  Leonardo Vol 46, No 1. (2013).

Delgado, Ana. “Public Engagement Coming of Age: From Theory to Practice in STS Encounters with Nanotechnology.” Public Understanding of Science 20, no. 6 (November 1, 2011): 826–845.

Guston, David. "Building the Capacity for public engagement with science in the United States." Public Understanding of Science, in press, (2013). 

Hommels, Anique. “Studying Obduracy in the City: Toward a Productive Fusion Between Technology Studies and Urban Studies.” Science, Technology & Human Values 30, no. 3 (July 1, 2005): 323–351. doi:10.1177/0162243904271759.

STEPS Manifesto: Innovation, Sustainability, Development 2010,

Rawlings, K.C.(Forthcoming). "Attending Tocqueville’s School: Examining the intrapersonal, political, and civic effects of nonprofit board participation", Administrative Theory & Praxis

II.  Publications as a Result of FCT 2012 

Mediating Urban Imaginaries: Designing and Doing the Futurescape City Tours

Cynthia Selin, Kelly Rawlings, Kathryn de Ridder-Vignone, Gretchen Gano, Jathan Sadowski, Carlo Altamirano, Sarah Davies, Mindy Kimball, and David Guston

This paper takes the challenge of the democratic control of technology seriously and offers a modest experiment in public engagement that seeks to build the capacity of citizen’s to think and act critically about technology. In doing so, it describes methods employed to harness citizen deliberation and spur meaningful participation in the governance of technology. This paper details the rational for rejuvenating public engagement, reviews some of the contemporary problems and tensions in public engagement and proposes an alternative approach, the Futurescape City Tours.

The Futurescape City Tours are a constellation of civic engagement activities composed of an urban walking tour, varied interactions between citizens, stakeholders and experts, and deliberative sessions designed by researchers at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University. Starting with citizen-set agendas regarding curiosities and concerns about emerging technology and the urban environment, researchers invited participants to use cameras and reflective writing to document, observe, question, and point out the places in their city where they see the past persisting, the present embodied, and the future emerging. Through the description of a new methodological approach to public engagement, this paper explores experience design, mediation, and tacit knowledge as critical but often-overlooked components of practices of public engagement. The inquiry explores how engagement processes can be more inclusive, drawing on multiple epistemologies; integrated, valuing expert and citizen input; and grounded in place and material circumstances. In doing so, the focus rests within the methodological, connecting the rational and techniques to the goal of building up a societal capacity for reflexivity, a key aim of technology assessment guided by notions of anticipatory governance (Barben et al 2008).

Obduracy and Malleability in the City: Public Engagement with Nanotechnology

Jathan Sadowski & Cynthia Selin

Obduracy is an important, yet often neglected, aspect of technology assessment that must be taken into account when studying the interplay of technology and society. New technologies do not emerge in a vacuum, but must fit into or tear down existing structures, routines, and value systems. The future is not malleable and open ended for new technologies to freely populate, but is always already conditioned by contemporary social, material, and economic circumstances. However, technologies, once established, can create obduracies that impede changes in cultures, institutions, and civic life. Anique Hommels (2005, 2008) has developed three useful conceptual models for understanding obduracy, which are, respectively, based on Actor-Network Theory, technological frames, and large socio-technical systems. We will further flesh out the concept of obduracy and apply Hommels’ models to the case of nanotechnology –– an emerging technology that has the very real potential for impending and pervasive ubiquity –– to show how new obduracies may be constituted and interrogated. We then describe a novel public engagement exercise that used an experiential, place-based urban walking tour to incorporate obduracy into technology assessment. Explicitly grappling with obduracy is crucial for avoiding undesirable pitfalls that may arise from technologies becoming resistant to social construction and change.

The Futurescape City Tours: Material Deliberation as Public Engagement

Kathryn de Ridder-Vignone, Carlo Altamirano & Cynthia Selin

As part of a panel focused on different aspects of the Futurescape City Tours (FCT), this research lays out the value of using material deliberation techniques, such as photography, to create more effective public engagement exercises and settings of civic learning. Auto-ethnographic techniques like reflective writing, taking photos, and crafting captions, present new possibilities for both revealing and co-constructing public meanings. This research seeks to be transparent and reflexive with regards to how photography can address some of the compromises made necessary in the move from theory to practice in public engagement (Delgado et al 2011). We contend that the use of photography helps those interested in going beyond a “Habermasian focus on rational discourse to acknowledge the value of the material and affective..." for public engagement and civic learning (Davis et al 2012). In particular, photography made evident the often taken for granted and sometimes invisible characteristics of the sociotechnical systems that define the urban landscape and individual’s experiences within it.  The images captured the groups’ anticipations of the future, its concerns for the present, and its explanations of why and how the past persists. This work finds itself at a unique intersection of inquiry in STS: cities, new methods of public engagement (material deliberation), and informal learning among a variety of participants and expertise (citizens, policy stakeholders, scientific experts, and corporate entities). 

Seeing the City:  Photography as a Place of Work

Carlo Altamirano and Kathryn de Ridder-Vignone

During the Futurescape City Tours, citizens engaged in an urban walking experience that involved observing, documenting and deliberating about the past, present and future of technology in the urban environment. Central to this experience was the use of photography as the place of work where the citizen-photographers used a visual language to grant meaning and structure to their experience. Drawing on Barthe's (1964) idea of semiology as a construction of meaning through the exploration and identification of systematic regularities of signs and objects, as well on Benjamin's (1936) notion that there is no photography without discourse, this paper demonstrates what these participants see as their relationship to their city as portrayed through photographic observations.

This paper aims to empirically illustrate the uses and power of an image to mediate discourse and representations of technological change in the city. To do so, we conducted a visual ethnography of the participants’ photographic images and captions. By pushing the boundaries of photography beyond an artistic practice into the realm of public engagement, we demonstrate the ways in which "a camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera," as Dorothea Lange once stated.

Public Engagement as Capacity Building

Kelly Campbell Rawlings

When exploring the “why” of public engagement with science and technology, three primary motivations and rationales have been identified: an instrumental desire for a particular result or end state; a substantive argument that engagement will result in better outcomes; and a normative position that engagement is the right thing to do based on democratic norms and values (Stirling, 2008; Delgado et al, 2011). Against a backdrop of ideas about the deliberative society and democracy as a way of life, this paper introduces and advances the concept of civic capacity as an intermediary between the instrumental, substantive, and normative rationales and positions civic capacity building as an end in itself for public engagement. When intentionally designed, public engagement can provide spaces and opportunities for individuals to develop civic capacity and we argue that in addition to these individual level effects, building civic capacity has important societal and democratic impacts as well. Drawing from the empirical findings of the Futurescape City Tours, the methods employed are presented as a novel- and transferable- practice for civic capacity building.

III. Future Publications (FCT 2013)

Informal learning and environments of expert/non-expert interactions 

David Tomblin and Gretchen Gano

Drawing on a thick description of expert/lay interactions created during the FCT 2012 and the partner iterations of 2013, this piece analyzes the affordances of settings and processes by assessing the various kinds of participation, power dynamics and exchanges and their role in informal learning.

Timing: 2014


This is our Flickr Stream from 2013. It contains the curated images from participants, tagged with their location, past/present/future, and a caption.



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