17th Annual STS Conference Graz 2018
Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies 

In our Call for Sessions we suggest the following thematic fields and we would like to encourage participants to think outside the box by combining thematic fields and considering intersections.

We want to stress the transdisciplinary approach of the conference, because we think that these discussions need participation beyond academia, and invite especially activists, policy makers and practitioners, as well as students and the interested public to participate. Co-operative activities between researchers and non-researchers, such as joint papers and workshops are highly welcome. To further highlight the transdisciplinarity, we explicit encourage participants to submit workshop concepts, and creative forms of conference inputs.

1. Gender - Technology - Environment

This area of research particularly focuses on gender and queer dimensions in science and technology. On the one hand, individual perspectives of actors in the technical field are taken into account, on the other hand educational, organisational, societal, environmental, and political issues (e.g. queer ecology or environmental justice) are gaining more and more relevance. Queer perspectives on STS are of special interest for sessions, including analyses of the reproduction of sexual binaries or reproductions of marginalized/hegemonic positions and normalizations in and through science and technologies.

2. Digitalization of Society

Information technology is around for some time now, but the transformative power of digitalization for the society still seems to grow. Mobile devices, connectivity, social media, platforms, big data and related developments as well as the new practices and social innovations associated with them are going to bring about substantial changes in many spheres of society. Currently, we can observe how Twitter changes the political communication. In the economic sphere a revolution in industrial production and work is heralded (“Industrie 4.0”) and new forms of platform economy are emerging. In everyday life, new social practices like those of the quantified self movement can be found. Techniques and practices of gamification are emerging in different fields of society. It is important to understand the impact on society of these socio-technical innovations, the challenges they pose as well as the opportunities associated with them. In doing so, proposals for submissions should focus on a particular sphere of society, a particular phenomenon of digitalization (such as big data or gamification), or a particular opportunity (e.g. democratization) or challenge (e.g. privacy).

3. Life Sciences / Biotechnology

Proposals for sessions are sought in two thematic areas:

First, following some 20 years of public debate, agricultural biotechnology continues to be a deeply controversial issue in the EU, partly fueled by progress in science and technology innovation such as GM industrial and energy crops, or novel breeding techniques. Research should contribute to a better understanding of the regulatory, broader policy and governance challenges of agricultural biotechnology, and/or explore strategies to manage these challenges.

Second, in recent years, social studies of the life sciences were bound to large scale research programmes. In many countries, these funding schemes have now come to an end. This is an opportunity to review these previous programmes via collaborative engagement with the life sciences, as well as to explore new ways of inquiry. Applicants are encouraged to address these issues when analysing the life sciences as a social process.

4. Sustainable and Innovative Public Procurement & Ecodesign

The supply side policy ‘ecodesign’ and the demand side policy ‘public procurement’ are used to support the transition towards green, socially responsible and innovative markets. Nonetheless, scientific research in these respective fields is still limited. Researchers investigating the following areas are encouraged to propose sessions:

The environmental impact or the innovation potential of green public procurement and ‘ecodesign’; the impact of socially responsible public procurement; the hurdles, success factors, efficacy, and wider implications of European or national policies for sustainable and innovative public procurement and ‘ecodesign’.

5. Towards Low-Carbon Energy and Mobility Systems

Based on analyses of social, technological and organisational frameworks of energy use and mobility systems, proposals for sessions should focus on the shaping of sustainable energy, mobility, climate and technology policies as well as on socio-economic aspects of energy and mobility technologies, on strategies of environmental technology policy or on the development of measures and strategies for the promotion of renewable energy sources; or on the transition to a sustainable energy and mobility system; or, on contributions to the field of sustainable construction. Regional governance, climate policy strategies, innovation policy, participation and the role of users are also important themes.

6. Sustainable Food Systems

The currently dominating industrialised and globalised food system causes various challenges related to food security, food justice, nutrition, food quality and safety, resource scarcity, carbon footprints and other challenges faced in urban or rural areas are currently dominating the industrialized and globalized food systems.

Proposals for sessions focussing on different forms of sustainable food systems, as well as on related social practices and socioeconomic/technical processes in the production, distribution, marketing, and consumption of food are encouraged. A particular focus lies on governance mechanisms, policies, and their (potential) contribution to a wider transformation towards more sustainable cities, regions and societies.