STS Underground

This group aims to discover and refine what it means to approach mining, burial, and subterranean exploration from an STS (science, technology, and society) perspective. We are interested in how questions about extraction and burial are posed and deliberated, the politics of the technologies and infrastructures that support subterranean work, and how the consequences of extraction and burial are addressed. Underlying each of these areas are issues of knowledge, expertise and power that STS is uniquely positioned to explore.

On this website you will find information about our workshops (2017 Colorado School of Mines, 2018 Australia, 2020 Germany), the organizers, our network of scholars, and available resources, including bibliographies and syllabi. The 2017 and 2018 workshops were generously funded by the Science, Technology and Society Program at the National Science Foundation (Award 1632651).


2020 Workshop: Timescapes of Mining
Freiberg (Saxony), Germany
August 16-17, 2020

Application deadline: February 29, 2020 

This workshop aims to strengthen and expand the network of researchers in STS who address the underground in their work. Our focus will be on the timescapes of mining: how can we understand the long history and emerging futures of mining? By focusing on timescapes, participants will develop new capacities to contextualize and interpret changes and transformations in our relations to mined materials, mining technologies, and the sciences of Earth’s subsurface.

Our workshop will take place immediately before the 4S/EASST Prague conference and will be sited in Freiburg, Germany, about 160 kilometers northwest of Prague. The workshop will include opportunities to share research in progress and network with international colleagues. Activities will include visits to an underground lab and closed mine at “Reiche Zeche” and a historic “Muldenhütten” smelter in Freiburg. In addition, we will connect with local activists and academics interested in decontamination and resource extraction from mining tailings.  


Applications to participate should include a 200-word biographical statement and a 500-word statement that describes and reflects upon how the participant’s research deals with the timescapes of mining. We are particularly interested in including scholars whose work addresses public issues or involves collaboration with scientists, engineers, or members of the lay public.

 Applications to participate in the workshop are due on February 29, 2020 and should be emailed to Jessica Smith at The subject line of the email should read “STSU Freiberg (surname of applicant)”.   Up to fifteen non-local applications will be chosen. Travel from Prague to Freiberg, lodging, and some meals will be covered by the organizers. 

STSU @ 4S/EASST Prague

The workshop is timed to precede the 2020 joint meetings of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) and the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST), in Prague. There is a related panel (open session) for the 4S/EASST meetings titled “STS Underground: Locating Matter and Agency in Emerging Subterranean Worlds.” Please consider submitting a paper abstract to that session (listed as #168 under open panels on the meeting website), in addition to applying to participate in this workshop. The deadline for submitting an abstract for 4S/EASST Prague open sessions is February 29, 2020.


This workshop is organized by Alena Bleicher (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ), Abby Kinchy (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Roopali Phadke (Macalester College), and Jessica Smith (Colorado School of Mines). Questions about the workshop can be directed to Roopali Phadke ( or Abby Kinchy (




sts underground special issue of


Engaging Science, Technology, and Society


We are pleased to share a special thematic collection of papers on mapping and modeling from our 2017 STS Underground workshop.

The introduction and all articles are available open access from the journal.

Click for Table of Contents, with links to pdf downloads.