25 Mar 2019

An interdisciplinary approach to development of new technologies in Australia

In March 2019, we visited a new research lab at Monash University in Melbourne. The Emerging Technologies Lab investigates an emerging technological environment where automation, artificial intelligence, data and the questions of ethics, responsibility and user experience and engagement that they bring with them are increasingly central. The Lab is lead by one of the leading design anthropologists, Prof Sarah Pink, known for her development of innovative digital, visual and sensory research and dissemination methodologies, which she engages in interdisciplinary projects with design, engineering and creative practice disciplines to engage with contemporary issues and challenges. The Lab’s core themes include energy futures, future mobilities, public space, e-waste, and design for wellbeing.

IRI UL’s researchers Dr Dan Podjed and Dr Sara Arko participated at the Digital Design Ethnography: Technologies, People and Futures event organised by the Emerging Technologies Lab. The symposium presented the ways in which social sciences and humanities can contribute to the research, understanding and the design of new technologies. Participants at the event included Prof Dr Deborah Lupton (University of New South Wales) and Prof Dr Sarah Pink, who presented an overview of design sociology and design anthropology.

Prof Dr Deborah Lupton (UNSW) and Prof Dr Sarah Pink (Monash University) at the Digital Design Ethnography event, organised by the Emerging Technologies Lab, 14 March 2019


Dr Sara Arko (Metronik and IRI UL) presented the PEOPLE project, which is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliances programme and coordinated by IRI UL. In her presentation, she focused on the innovative approach to teaching and learning, developed within the project, which supports the univarsity-industry cooperation in the field of education and interdisciplinary research and development approaches in energy efficiency and sustainability. The people-centred approaches are already being further applied in two Horizon 2020 projects, in which IRI UL is a partner: Mobistyle and TripleA-reno. In these projects, ethnographic research methods and social sciences are part of the interdisciplinary approach to developing people- and environment-friendly (technological) solutions in the field of energy efficiency in buildings.

Dr Sara Arko (Metronik and IRI UL) presenting the PEOPLE project (Erasmus+)

A team of representatives of Halmstad University (Sweden) and company Volvo presented their innovative research on autonomous vehicles and future mobilities. Dr Dan Podjed (ZRC SAZU and IRI UL) concluded the symposium with a lecture on the value of anthropology for the development of people- and environment-friendly solutions. He explained that anthropologists will need to adapt their approaches and become more intensively engaged in inter- and transdisciplinary projects, if they wished to be involved in co-designing future technologies.

Dan Podjed, Monash University, event, DIgital Design Ethnography, EMerging Technologies Lab
Dr Dan Podjed (ZRC SAZU and IRI UL) presented the value of anthropology for designing people- and environment-friendly solutions

Members of IRI UL team also participated at the e-Waste workshop, organised at Monash University. Due to the forthcoming upcoming e-waste ban from landfill in Victoria, the issue of e-waste, which is also the fastest growing stream of waste, is particularly important. The workshop unpacked the future scenarios for e-waste and was aimed at researchers, charities, government and industry professionals concerned with the future management of e-waste. Dr Dan Podjed presented the project Invisible Life of Waste, which is co-funded by the Slovenian Research Agency and is carried out in partnership between ZRC SAZU, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of University of Ljubljana and company CVS Mobile.