2018 workshop

We are co-hosting a second workshop in august 2018 in australia.


Making Sense of the Underground

University of Wollongong, Australia

August 27-28, 2018



What does the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) have to say about the underground? Mining, subterranean exploration, burial, and other forms of underground work are rich areas of investigation for STS scholars. 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 methodology: what research methods and analytical strategies can we use to observe and make sense of human interactions with subterranean materials and places? By focusing on method, we can better understand and share the ways in which we come to know and mobilize the underground spaces and places that are so difficult to see, explore and develop

Our workshop will be sited in Wollongong, about 1.5 hrs from Sydney, and located in the heart of what is called the “Southern Coal Fields” of New South Wales.  The workshop will include opportunities to share research in progress and network with international colleagues. Activities will include a keynote address by a noted scholar, a field excursion to a coal mining region, a panel discussion with activists confronting the mining industry, and exchanges with Sydney-based scientists and engineers working in mining and other related fields.

This workshop is sponsored by the United States National Science Foundation, the University of New South Wales and the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER) at the University of Wollongong. It is organized by Roopali Phadke (Macalester College), Jessica Smith (Colorado School of Mines), Abby Kinchy (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) and Matthew Kearnes (U. of New South Wales).  

Applications to participate should include a 200-word biographical statement and a 500-word statement that describes and reflects upon the methodological challenges and opportunities that subterranean STS entails. For example, applicants could focus on:

  • Research techniques for probing, seeing, and representing human interactions with the underground.
  • Ways of connecting with networks and partners to facilitate engaged and community based practice.
  • Analytical frameworks that move up and down scales of analysis.

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 1, 2018 and should be emailed to Abby Kinchy (kincha@rpi.edu). The subject line of the email should read “STSU Sydney (surname of applicant)”.

Up two twenty applications will be chosen. Travel from Sydney to Wollongong, lodging and meals will be covered by the organizers. Ten workshop participants will be selected to receive a travel stipend of $500. Priority for stipends will be given to those traveling from outside Australia, particularly graduate students and junior scholars.

The workshop is timed to precede the 2018 meetings of the Society for Social Studies of Science in Sydney. There will be a related panel (open session) for the 4S meetings titled “STS UNDERGROUND: Investigating the Technoscientific Worlds of Mining and Subterranean Extraction”. Please consider submitting a paper abstract to that session (listed as #12 under open panels on the 4S Sydney meeting website), in addition to applying to participate in this workshop. The deadline for applying for 4S Sydney open sessions is February 1, 2018.

Questions about the workshop can be directed to Abby Kinchy (kincha@rpi.edu).