Environmental Infrastructures: Socio-Technical Innovation for Sustainability between Denmark, Japan, and East Asia

Investigator: Casper Bruun Jensen (cbje@itu.dk) and Brit Ross Winthereik (brwi@itu.dk).

Date: August 2012 – 2016

Type: International research project (Funded by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science).

The project involves collaborative activities organized by associate professor Atsuro Morita (P.I), associate professors Casper Bruun Jensen and Brit Ross Winthereik (ITU), Anders Blok (KU) and participants from Tokyo and Kyoto University among other places.

Environmental infrastructures refer to systems of coordinated technologies, standards and practices that are developed with the aim of ensuring environmental sustainability. The point of the environmental infrastructures project is to develop a comparative basis with which to analyze different modes and strategies for building sustainable environmental infrastructures. Our working hypothesis is that a precondition for the successful development of environmental infrastructures is that technological innovation is carried out in a way that takes into account both the natural environment and the socio-cultural context of user countries. Our science and technology studies (STS) approach to environmental infrastructures is based on ethnographic studies of engineering practices, use of IT technologies, and the building of socio-cultural partnerships in the context of green technology innovation. Applicants are engaged in a wide range of research topics in Denmark, Japan, Thailand and India. Each case is explored ethnographically and focuses on technology design aiming to improve environmental sustainability. Shared among them is that i) they require innovative combinations of new and old technologies, ii) they are carried out in the context of considerable uncertainty about outcomes, and iii) they involve complex relations between Northern and Southern partners, connecting local innovations with global circulation of people, objects and information.

Preliminary meetings were held in conjunction with the 4S conference in Tokyo, 2010 and in Osaka and Copenhagen 2011. Two workshops are planned under the framework of this activity; the first in Copenhagen, Denmark in September 2010 and the second in Osaka, Japan in November 2010. Project participants have organized a series of panels on Environmental Infrastructures for the 4S 2012 conference to be held at Copenhagen Business School in October.

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