[URBANTH-L]PhD Summer School: Technologies and their Environments: The Circulation of Materials, People and Knowledge (Darmstadt)

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Fri Feb 23 13:45:36 EST 2007

From: Mikael Hard <hard at ifs.tu-darmstadt.de>


to the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Summer School

Technologies and their Environments:
The Circulation of Materials, People, and Knowledge in 20th-Century Europe

organized by
the Graduate School "Topology of Technology"
and the International Collaborative Network "Tensions of Europe"

This interdisciplinary Ph.D. summer school explores the embedding of 
modern technologies in their environments through concepts such as 
"circulation," "metabolism," and "ubiquity." Focusing on 20th-century 
Europe, it investigates how technology has become so closely 
intertwined with its surroundings that the old distinction between 
culture and nature no longer seems to make sense. Rivers like the Rhine 
have been turned into traffic arteries, and Scandinavian forests have 
been transformed into plantations. To supply Europe with fresh tomatoes 
and masses of tourists with fresh water, Andalusian wells are nowadays 
drilled up to 1 km deep and surface water is being piped in from ever 
more distant areas. Quickened by the globalization of the world's 
economy and the internationalization of engineering knowledge, 
technologies now span the world and threaten to reduce the earth to 
little more than a source of raw materials. Fresh air and water-what in 
Europe used to be called "common goods"-are not only becoming 
increasingly rare, but also increasingly commercialized.

The summer school explicitly problematizes and historicizes these 
developments. It asks how the situation just described has evolved and 
by what means these negative developments may be arrested or deflected. 
Its focus lies on 20th-century Europe, but comparisons with other parts 
of the globe will also be undertaken and the successive globalization 
of environmental problems will be discussed.

The one-week course takes familiar discourses as its point of 
departure. For example, critical philosophers, historians, and 
sociologists have for some time now analyzed our dependence on 
technology by speaking of a "second nature," and concerned scientists 
and engineers have tried to reduce the environmental impact" of 
production processes and products. In technology studies concepts such 
as "infrastructure," "system," and "network" have been applied to 
analyze the close relationship between technology and society, and in 
environmental studies the impact of our lifestyle has been investigated 
by means of a concept like "ecological footprint."

The organizers of the summer school acknowledge the importance of these 
approaches, but wish to go one step further. By exploring the 
potentials of the so-called spatial turn in the social sciences and the 
humanities, they hope to contribute both theoretically and 
methodologically to the development of a "topology of technology." This 
implies that we encourage applications from Ph.D. students who deal 
with spatial aspects of technology. Students who are interested in the 
potential of a topological approach for understanding the technological 
integration of Europe are especially welcome.

The organizers invite Ph.D. candidates from various fields to spend one 
week together to discuss the historical origins and future challenges 
of a system that has become increasingly problematic to sustain. Only 
by combining insights and perspectives from several disciplines will it 
be possible to increase our awareness of the increasing omni-presence 
of technological systems and products in various environments. The 
program is deliberately interdisciplinary, and the teachers come from 
history, sociology, and engineering.

Time and Place

The summer school will be held 8­13 July, 2007, at the Jakobsberg 
monastery, beautifully situated, overlooking the Rhine valley, ca. 40 
km west of Frankfurt (www.klosterjakobsberg.de).


The course will be taught by teachers from three countries and representing
three disciplines:
- Sabine Barles, Paris, France
- Cornelis Disco, Twente, Netherlands
- Mikael Hård, Darmstadt, Germany
- Dieter Schott, Darmstadt, Germany
- Wilhelm Urban, Darmstadt, Germany
- Heike Weber, Darmstadt, Germany
All teachers will be present throughout the whole week and will, in 
to giving a plenary lecture, be available for group discussions and for
participation in the presentation of the individual PhD projects.

Program Structure

The topics of the five days are:
Monday, 9 July: Circulation and Metabolism as Analytic Concepts
Tuesday, 10 July: Resource Management in Europe and Overseas
Wednesday, 11 July: The Industrialization of Nature
Thursday, 12 July: Streams of Waste in the Consumer Society
Friday, 13 July: The Spatial Turn in Technology Studies: Summary and 

The program consists of:
- plenary lectures (45 min.) given by the teachers, and additional time 
(30 min.) for questions and discussion
- group discussions (45 min.) on the basis of the lectures and 
pre-circulated reading material (a total of 6 groups, each joined by 
one of the teachers, minutes to be kept by one participant)
- presentations (20 min.) by PhD candidates of individual projects (in 
2 parallel sessions), followed by discussion (20 min.)
- an excursion on the Rhine
- shared meals and social events

Requirements and Credits
All participating PhD candidates are expected
- to read the provided set of texts (ca. 300 pages) in preparation for 
the course
- to take an active part in discussions
- to give a 20-minute oral presentation in English on their 
dissertation theme

In addition, those students who wish to receive a diploma need to 
submit a 15-page (6,000 words) paper in English on one aspect of their 
dissertation or on a topic discussed in the course before 15 Sept., 
2007. Students who fulfill all these requirements will receive a 
diploma for 6 ECTS credits (work load: 180 hours) from the organizers.


The summer school is organized by the graduate school "Topology of 
Technology," a newly established program at Darmstadt University of 
Technology, funded by the German Research Council (DFG) 
(www.ifs.tu-darmstadt.de/gradkoll-tdt), and by the international 
collaborative network and research program "Tensions of Europe," 
coordinated by the Foundation for the History of Technology at 
Eindhoven University of Technology (www.histech.nl/tensions). The goal 
of the interdisciplinary graduate school is to improve our knowledge of 
the spatial aspects of technical change and usage. In the Tensions of 
Europe research network the ambition is to get a better understanding 
of the emergence of Europe by using concepts such as circulation and 
appropriation of technologies and knowledge.


The participation fee amounts to 195 ?, incl. (subsidized) 
accommodation for five nights in a double-room and full board, but 
excl. travel costs. All additional local costs will be carried by 
"Topology of Technology" and "Tensions of Europe." Ph.D. candidates who 
are not able to raise the necessary amount for travel and lodging may 
apply for funds.


Ph.D. candidates interested in the topic are invited to apply. An 
application, including a curriculum vitae and a one-page abstract of 
the Ph.D. project, should be submitted no later than Tuesday, 10 April 
2007, to topologie at ifs.tu-darmstadt.de. Applications for travel grants 
or fee waivers have to be accompanied by a declaration of the 
candidate's economic situation and institutional affiliation.

The summer school is planned for 34 participants. In case more students 
apply, the organizers reserve for themselves the right to make a 
suitable selection. Please direct any questions you might have to 
Mikael Hård (hard at ifs.tu-darmstadt.de, tel. +49-61 51 16 30 97) or 
Dieter Schott (schott at pg.tu-darmstadt.de, tel. +49-61 51 16 20 44).

Mikael Hård
Darmstadt University of Technology

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