Bridging disciplines in pursuance of sustainability

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Lisa Burghardt
4. term, Techno-Anthropology, Master (Master Programme)
Across academia various fields are concerned with finding sustainable solutions to the climate crisis through a variety of approaches. Scholars researching socio-ecological systems (SES) engage with sustainability by studying human-environment interactions. Within this field, they frequently either ignore the role of technology or render it as instrumental. This lack of consideration of the meanings of technology in SES is problematic because it systematically ignores potential conflicts that technological designs may pose towards reaching sustainability. This thesis has identified this as a window of opportunity to bridge SES and socio-technical systems (STS), which has long been concerned with the meanings of technology. The aim of this thesis is to identify ways in which research on SES can make sense of technology differently and to propose opportunities for collaboration between the two fields. First, an introduction to SES and discussions on human-nature relations is given. Then, a STS perspective of understanding technology is presented through critical theory of technology. Thereafter, a paradigmatic case study serves to empirically scaffold how instrumental conceptions of technology impair achieving sustainable change. Finally, this thesis proposes two modes for SES scholars to make sense of technology: by questioning technology as an opportunity of intervention and by engaging in research collaborations with STS as interventions. These modes are proposed to drive sustainability agendas by allowing for new perspectives, and therefore opening avenues for different solutions to the climate crisis through interfacing under the umbrella of researching socio-technological-ecological systems.
Publication date4 Jun 2021
Number of pages39
ID: 413823053