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Symposium with Thaddeus Miller

The Techno-Politics of Infrastructure: Contesting Sustainability in Portland, OR and Beyond

Infrastructures are the technological sinews of the modern metropolitan area. They deliver essential services, such as water and mobility, and provide protection against climate and weather variability. Infrastructures are also the embodiment of social, ethical, and political choices and contests that have played out over time and at multiple scales. As these social and political choices become settled and materialized in our engineered infrastructure, they become hidden from view. When infrastructure is in flux—in moments of creation, transformation, or destruction—the techno-politics of infrastructure can often take center stage. As urban infrastructures across the globe are being re-shaped in light of sustainability challenges—from climate change to livability—there is an opportunity to explore how techno-politics are embedded in proposed infrastructure design choices and to point to alternative pathways. This talk explores the techno-politics of sustainable infrastructure through the emergence of a public controversy over transportation infrastructure and subsequent public deliberations that re-shaped engineering design decisions in Portland, OR. It then points to possibilities for opening up alternative pathways for infrastructure through ongoing projects on climate resilience and innovations in smart energy systems.

Will be livestreamed online and recorded - http://www.ustream.tv/asutv.

Thaddeus Miller’s research explores how sustainability is interpreted, contested, materialized and settled in science and technology policy and infrastructure design. He is on the Executive Management Team for the National Science Foundation funded Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network, and co-PI of the NSF-funded STIR Cities project. He is Assistant Professor at the Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University, and an Affiliate of the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at Arizona State University. His first book, Reconstructing Sustainability Science: Knowledge and Action for a Sustainable Future (2015), part of the Earthscan Routledge Science in Society Series, and examines how scientists navigate epistemic and normative tensions to link knowledge to social action.