Finding a place for engineering studies in disaster STS? Creating the STS Forum on the 2011 East Japan Disaster

Atsushi Akera, Anto Mohsin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the opening panel at the recent Society for the Social Studies ofScience/Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y la Tecnologia (4S/ESOCITE) meeting in Buenos Aires, the 4S president (and editor of this journal), Gary Downey, challenged us to move beyond the traditional linear model of knowledge creation and utilization by reflecting on how many Science and Technology Studies scholars pursue novel ways of acting upon the world through scaling up their scholarship. This critical participation piece describes our attempt to forge an international research forum in the wake of the 2011 East Japan Disaster that constitutes one such attempt to produce scalable scholarship. Inspired by the deep reflexivity of autoethnography, this account examines the tensions inherent to such an endeavor, including the tensions between scholarship and engagement; personal and professional goals; research ethics and different international standards for scholarship; and the desire to make engineering visible versus the dominant STS (science and technology studies) framing of disasters research. This account should serve as a useful guide for others seeking to build international collaborations involving engineering studies, and other similar efforts to produce scalable scholarship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-209
Number of pages19
JournalEngineering Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2 2014


  • East Japan Disaster
  • alternative conference formats
  • blogs
  • disaster STS
  • disaster studies
  • international collaboration
  • invisible engineer
  • making and doing
  • new media
  • research ethics
  • scalable scholarship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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