Navigating Complexity: Representation, Objectivity and the Digital

General description of the course
How can the insights of STS be brought to bear on the complexities of contemporary questions of digital representation, accounts of innovation and scientific controversy? The ESST Specialization Navigating Complexity: Representation, Objectivity and the Digital at the IT University of Copenhagen brings core STS approaches from ANT, feminist techno-science and postcolonial approaches to science and innovation into conversation with contemporary mapping and visualisation techniques. Building on foundational STS literature and approaches encountered in ESST Part I and developed through this specialization, Navigating Complexity brings a critical lens to the issues of representation and objectivity, challenging students to develop skills in navigating this complexity through the use of digital methods.

The course opens with a focus on current paradigms of complexity itself, offering a range of analogue techniques through which complexity can be thought.  Students are then introduced to digital visualization tools which come to comprise a personal tool box of analytic and visualisation techniques. Experimentation with different techniques for generating and visualizing complex fields of knowledge in an empirical domain is both supported and encouraged. Topics are chosen in accordance with the student’s own interest and a range of range of teaching techniques, from lectures to Practicums, are employed to ensure students take a hands on approach to the questions raised by the modules.

As part of this specialization, ESST students will be embedded within the ETHOS lab at the IT University of Copenhagen (www.ethos.itu.dk) and will have the opportunity, if desired, to research cases that are connected to the lab’s partner organizations.

Internship possibilities (if any)

As part of this specialization, ESST students will be embedded within the ETHOS lab at the IT University of Copenhagen (www.ethos.itu.dk) and will have the opportunity, if desired, to research cases that are connected to the lab’s partner organizations. Internship opportunities may include links with Hitachi Consulting, Copenhagen Solutions Lab, The Danish Agency for Digitization, and the Danish Tax Authority. The IT University has collaboration agreements with these organizations already. To organize thesis collaboration with these or other organizations they must be approached early in the semester. Rachel Douglas-Jones will assist in this.

Description of Introductory course: how it is organised; core list of texts ; amount of ECTS

Navigating Complexity: Representation, Objectivity and the Digital is organized over the first six weeks of the Spring semester. It begins in calendar week 5 (which in 2016 is February 1st). Students will attend weekly lectures and practicums with the Navigating Complexity cohort of students, on the Digital Innovation and Management program. In addition, they will submit small pieces of written work to and meet regularly with course manager Rachel Douglas-Jones. At the end of the six weeks, students will submit two documents. The first develops a theme of their choosing from Navigating Complexity, which may build on submitted work during the course. The second outlines a thesis plan and timeline. Students will be examined on these written documents through an oral exam lasting up to 30 minutes, during which they should be prepared to answer questions on the work they have prepared and their plans for their thesis research and writing time. The course will award them 8 ECTS.

Core texts

Sismundo,S. 2010. An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies. Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford and London.
Latour, B. 1987. Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers thorugh Society.
Haraway, D. 1988. Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.
Dumit, J. 2014. Writing the Implosion: Teaching the world one thing at a time.
Venturini, T. 2010. Diving in Magma: How to Explore Controversies with Actor Network Theory
Marres. N. 2015. Why Map Issues? On Controversy Analysis as a Digital Method.
Turnbull, D. 2000. Tricksters and Cartographers: Maps, Science and the State in the Making of a Modern Scientifici Knowledge Space.
Turnbull, D. 2013. Contesting Ecological Collapse: Rapa Nui, the Island at the End of the World.
Krygier, J and Wood, D. 2009. Ce n’est pas le monde (this is not the world).

Examples of thesis topics

This specialization has not been run before, hence there are no prior topics. However, ESST students at ITU have pursued thesis topics relating to open source software development controversies, the Data Protection ‘Safe Harbour’ debates at the EU parliament following the Snowden Revelations, and the emergence of hackerspaces and their norms in the Copenhagen area. Following Navigating Complexity, students will be equipped to pursue the mapping of controversies in science, technology and innovation and produce a reflexive account.

Name and email address specialisation coordinator

Dr Brit Ross Winthereik is the coordinator and contact person for ESST at ITU
Dr Rachel Douglas-Jones will be the course manager

List of involved staff members

Coordinator and contact person

Dr. Brit Ross Winthereik, Associate Professor: brwi@itu.dk
Ethnography of knowledge practices / Social Life of Methods / Ontology / Renewable Energy / Accountability / Standardization / Health care IT/ Information infrastructures

Other involved staff

Dr. Randi Markussen, Associate Professor:
Feminist Science & Technology Studies / Democratic Technologies & E-voting/ Historical and Ethnomethodological approaches/ The History of ICTs/ IT in Health Care / Politics of Technology.

Dr. Steffen Dalsgaard, Associate Professor:
Melanesia (Papua New Guinea)/ Leadership & Elites/ The State/ Political Anthropology/ Democracy (Voting & Elections)/ Census/ Bureaucracy/ The Anthropology of Development/ Values, Gifts, Exchange/ Cultural Heritage & Tradition/ Carbon, Environment, Climate Change, Energy Politics/ Time & Temporality.

Dr. Christopher Gad, Associate Professor:
Anthropology and Ethnography of Technology/ Organizational Analysis/ Bureaucratic Work Practices/ Surveillance Studies/ Art and Technology/ Democracy and Technology/ Ontologies/ Digitalization/ Conceptual Development in/of STS

Dr. Laura Watts, Associate Professor:
Ethnography of Futures/ Feminist Technoscience/ Social Studies of Marine Energy/ Writing Methods.

Dr. Vasiliki Baka, Assistant Professor:
Organisational reputation managing practices/User-Generated-Content/Social Collaboration Platforms/ Process Philosophy/Becoming/ Practice Lens/ Performativity/ Travel & Hospitality/ Sustainability in Developing countries

Dr. Rachel Douglas-Jones, Assistant Professor:
Value, Evaluation and Decision-making / Materiality and Ethnography of Knowledge Practices / Governance and Ethics / Standardization and ‘Quality’ / Bodies and Biomedicine / Energy, Buildings and Infrastructure / Science Collaboration and Comparison.

Web link to IT University of Copenhagen website and information accommodation

Become an exchange student at ITU
ITU Accomodation Application.pdf