Seminar by Dr. Duygu Kaşdoğan

27/05/2019 11:00

Designing Sustainability in the Anthropocene: Urban Infrastructures Across the Science-Society Boundary 
How to design and evaluate the performance of urban infrastructures at a time when such infrastructures have become one of the most important sites of sustainability due to the increasing share of urban habitation? How, in other words, to design sustainability in the Anthropocene, which will only get more accentuated with the increasing urban sprawl? Infrastructures are no longer simply perceived as engineered systems but are considered as multi-layered socio-technical systems that mediate relations between ecology, science, and culture. For example, designing a wastewater treatment facility in a sustainable manner now goes beyond the expertise in the field of environmental engineering and requires the inclusion of matters of concern ranging from public health to environmental conflicts to social justice. In these times when we witness the increasing attacks on "expert knowledge" (e.g., anti-climate science discourse) as well as uncertainties regarding the social and environmental impacts of new urban infrastructures (e.g., bioenergy production systems), it becomes more significant to conduct sustainability research from a transdisciplinary perspective that centers on science-society interactions.
In this talk, Dr. Duygu Kaşdoğan will elucidate the contributions of transdisciplinary sustainability research in responding to complex socio-ecological challenges by using theories, concepts, analytics, and methods developed in and through the fields of science and technology studies and political ecology. Her talk will unpack a number of models to practice science-society interactions in the design stage of urban infrastructures on the basis of her ethnographic research on algal biofuel projects that integrate wastewater and energy systems. This research shows the importance of design process in the making of sustainability. It draws particular attention to the limits of techno-managerial approach to sustainability, and suggests for modeling science-society interactions at the design stage of urban infrastructure projects. Science-society interaction models seek to (1) include societal actors in diverse stages of infrastructure building; (2) experiment with different ways to bridge structured gaps in knowledge that are produced by political and institutional forces; and (3) strengthen the credibility of science in solving sustainability problems.