Our research focuses on exploring the multi-layered relations of technologies and environments, while alternating between prioritizing technology, science, philosophy, and art with both disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches. We are especially interested in the study of constellations and structures, of life forms, and of past, present, and future socio-technical mindscapes.

Technology is examined as cultural practice, considering technoscientific objects, socio-technical imaginations, technological forms of knowledge, or technoscientific theory (dissociated from science and technology). Computerization of knowledge domains, extractivism in Latin America, analysis of data practices, technology as a form of life, as well as heuristics as combinatoric technique are examples for specific topics covered by our research.

This area scrutinizes the way knowledge and values as well as ethics and politics depend on each other. Particular attention is paid to technology ethics (e.g. ambient assisted living) and ethics of care (e.g. repairing versus recycling). Especially critical questions about history of technological determinism and scientism are of current interest, with rapidly progressing scientification of numerous range of actions.

Environmental Anthropology is understood by us as a critical analysis regarding the relevance of technology. Creation and manipulation of environment by humankind is treated in particular. Methodically, we are interested in philosophical fieldwork; whereas our theoretical approaches deal with assemblages, ensembles, and structure of technology and environment. Connections of different species, machine-data-human relations during anthropocene, and evolution from homo faber to homo hortensis are viewed in detail.

Visualization of data and images (treated as data) is a crucial part of epistemic practice, scientific validation and presentation alike. We are interested in image cultures of environmental science and ecology. What makes up pictures as scientific currency? How do pictures become environmental icons? What kind of pictorial worlds are created by ecology and environmental sciences?

Heuricstics of engineering and sciences are future-oriented, scrutinizing new technology or controllable regularities. Perceptions of social, economical, and ecological change are inevitably associated with that, leading to technological future narratives. Examination of past future narratives and their speculative potential is contributing to comprehension of current future narratives. This includes the beginnings of railroads, computers, nanotechnology, or history of technology assessment.

Keynote: Research of the Chair of Technoscience Studies

  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Schwarz

    Our research heuristics can best be understood as philosophic fieldwork. Therefore, we rely on empirical measurements, as well as conceptual, interpretative, hermeneutical, and analytical approaches. 

    Prof. Dr. rer. nat. habil. Astrid Schwarz

Heuristical thinking is a key competency of engineering. We examine heuristics as a problem-solving strategy and use them analysing case studies that reveal different facets of thinking and acting. The work involves experimenting, crafting, testing, designing, sketching, and playing. We also apply heuristical thinking to established narration techniques and widespread patterns of socio-cultural interpretation. We are also interested in examining how phenomena, methods, concepts and their logics of design are mutually stabilizing. Our methodlogy will often involve several subject areas.

‘Environment’ is viewed in a social and (artificial) technological context (e.g. digitalisation, virtual reality, social robotics, sustainable building, urban gardening, or re-vegetated landscapes). This also encompasses ‘environmental problems’ (e.g. Anthropocene and climate change, urban sprawl and destruction of landscapes, species extinction and alienation from nature). Another topic is the analysis and comparative evaluation of present (or past) visions for future environment and engineering relations.

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