Rider Foley—Assistant Professor, Science, Technology & Society, UVA
“From Engagement to Intervention: Reconstructing Two Events at the Motorola 52nd Street Superfund Site.”
Friday, November 3, 2017
Athenaeum (Newman Library 124)
Scientific knowledge and technological artifacts are built into a city’s urban fabric. Such knowledge and artifacts in turn affect the lived experiences of the city’s residents. From Jane Jacobs’s streetscapes to Lewis Mumford’s livable city, the constitution of power and authority can be seen in the city’s very infrastructure. Scholars have recently experimented with novel engagements intending to shift de facto power and authority arrangements between citizens and technical experts. However, those experimental engagements are rarely understood as interventions in urban techno-politics. This article aims to reconstruct two interventions in Phoenix, Arizona at the Motorola 52nd Street Superfund Site, the largest urban subsurface contamination zone in the United States. The research design aims to reconstruct two specific interventions through the use a semi-structured analytical framework. Findings suggest the interventions “opened up” technical decisions and government officials later repurposed the participatory technology assessment at their quarterly meeting. The other intervention influenced a binding decision by elected officials. These events suggests how roles and relationships allowed boundaries to be crossed and for experiential and empirical knowledge to be unified and thus influence decisions within the sphere of urban techno-politics. The pursuits of science, technology and society (STS) scholars, I argue, are well positioned to move from engagement to intervention.

Rider is an assistant professor of science, technology & society program in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia.  His research focuses on wicked problems that arise at the intersection of society and technology. He is the principal investigator of the ‘4C Project’ on Cultivating Cultures of Ethical STEM education with colleagues from Notre Dame, Xavier University and St. Mary’s College. He is the Co-PI of the recently funded NSF project, “A Novel Architecture for Secure, Energy-Efficient Community-Edge-Clouds with Application in Harlem” with partners in Harlem, Fordham University and University of Arizona. He has received five NSF awards and sub-contracts and numerous internal research awards.  Rider is a Research Collaborator with the Sustainability Science Education program at the Biodesign Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in Sustainability from Arizona State University, a Master’s in Environmental Management from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science from University of New Hampshire. Before earning his doctorate, he worked for a decade in environmental consulting for Triumvirate Environmental Inc.
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Snacks and conversation to begin at 1:00pm