Technology and Society: Inviting Early Career Scholars into the University’s New Strategic Research Theme

Dr Ranjana Das wrote this post for the Doctoral College Newsletter where it can be accessed on this link.

In August 2020, the University of Surrey kicked off The Technology and Society Theme – a cutting-edge blend of Surrey research on the societal consequences of new and emerging technologies, critically interrogating the potentials, possibilities, ethics and consequences of technologies in human life. We all know that Surrey is home to world-leading, stellar research centres, insrittues and clusters – of all sizes, focusing on specific dimensions on digital technologies. This history is powerful and cutting-edge, and this new theme will hopefully become a giant umbrella/sandpit/playground (pick the metaphor of your choice!) cutting across all of these areas. The theme cuts across interests in emerging technologies, artificial Intelligence, big data, the ‘internet of things’, and all forms of digitally mediated communication – without being tied to any one specific interface or platform. It makes it its mission to find out ways in which technology can be mobilised to improve individual and societal outcomes. Instead of being limited to any one technology or platform alone, the theme provides an expansive and ambitious landscape for critical inquiries about technology and its intersections with health, politics, power, inequalities, cultures and communities.

I am very proud to be the Theme Champion for this theme! I am Dr Ranjana Das – Reader in Media and Communication in the Department of Sociology, and I am working on an array of things to get internal momentum and external visibility going for the theme, and one of the things I am  very keen on is that Early Career Scholars working on any aspect of data and digital technologies in relation to their societal consequences, get involved with the theme. We have scholars across the University involved in post-doctoral fellowships, other research positions, or people in academic teaching and research roles who are within a few years of their PhD who are working on things that touch upon the theme’s priorities and we want to hear from you!

Here are some things to do –

  1. Write to Ranjana: This is the most important first step! I am waiting to hear from our early career scholars, to add them to the theme database, to bring their expertise into the MS Teams sandpit we are working on creating this autumn. We want the Theme to cross all career stages, so please write to me at contact me on Twitter @DrRanjanaDas. We can schedule a real/virtual coffee anytime!
  2. Follow the Theme on Twitter: Our fledgling new Twitter account needs you! Give us a follow on @TechSocSurrey and tag us when you want your work publicised
  3. Send us your research to showcase: The Theme intern Grace Thompson is collecting research to showcase (your most proud-making talks/papers/work in progress/project) – for the Theme blog – please write to Grace (copy me in) if you want us to shout about your work!
  4. Finally – lots coming up–  keep in mind that whilst we are doing this granular mapping of expertise and database building, and all the showcasing via blog and Twitter, we are planning a series of high profile public seminars for 2021 – cutting across our faculties. These will be Live Events on Teams – so keep eyes peeled for that.
  5. And even more finally (really!) – here is a short film on the Theme, here is the theme’s initial website, here is the theme Twitter, and pasted below are the theme logo and banner.
  6. Support – if you have ideas for conference panel submissions, perhaps to bring conferences or ECR conferences to surrey, or have an exciting paper to speak about – hopefully, as part of my Theme Champion role I can always find ways to give you some sounding board supportiveness and see if the theme can get involved with cool ideas – even if to showcase, promote etc.

That’s it from me – please write to me – our early career scholars are central to Surrey Research – and I am very keen to involve you within the Theme