Design Dialogues

Lucy Suchman, Professor and Chair in the Anthropology of Science and Technology in the Department of Sociology –  Lancaster, United Kingdom

See the recording of the talk here and photos of Dr. Suchman’s visit here. See the campus announcement of the talk here

Title “Relocating Innovation: Places and material practices of future making
Friday, March 3, 2017 – 11A-12P, NCSA Auditorium, 1205 W Clark St, Urbana, IL on the University of Illinois campus.  

Download poster copy here.

Abstract: This talk explores the question of how we might engage both critically and generatively with the contemporary figure of innovation.  I suggest as one resource the concept of location, as it has been articulated within anthropological, feminist, and (post)colonial research.  I take as a starting place the premise that we cannot think about innovation separately from the political, economic, and disciplinary histories that imbue that word with its currency.  More specifically, we need to attend to the ways in which the professionalisation of design in the last century, in the midst of kindred projects in modernist rationalisation, has included a legacy of hegemonic claims to the question of what and whose knowledges are relevant to our collective future making.  Only by engaging critically with that history can we extricate ourselves from what are arguably the extraordinarily repetitive terms that have been available to us for articulating processes of change.  In writing about innovation’s relocation, my argument is that design needs to acknowledge the specificities of its place, to position itself as one (albeit multiple) figure and practice of transformation.


Bio: Lucy Suchman has engaged for over 30 years in research at the interface of humans and machines, with a particular focus on initiatives in the delegation of human capabilities to technological systems. Before taking up her present post she was a Principal Scientist at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, where she spent twenty years as a researcher. Her current research extends her longstanding engagement with the fields of human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence and robotics to the domain of contemporary war fighting, including problems of ‘situational awareness’ in military training and simulation, and in remotely-controlled weapon systems. She has written for both social and information sciences audiences, and is the author of Human-Machine Reconfigurations (2007) and Plans and Situated Actions: the problem of human-machine communication (1987), both published by Cambridge University Press. In 2002 she received the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Sciences, in 2010 the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Research Award, and in 2014 the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) Bernal Prize for Contributions to the Field.

* Breakfast reception before the talk

Co-Sponsored by:
The Recovering Prairie Futures IPRH Research Cluster
The Provost’s Office
The College of Engineering
The College of Media
The School of Information Sciences
The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications
The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

with the:
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
College of Education
College of Fine and Applied Arts
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
School of Social Work
Center for Advanced Study
Center for Digital Inclusion
Center for Global Studies
Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning
Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Center for People and Infrastructures
Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Disability Resources and Educational Services
Gender and Women’s Studies
Human and Dynamics Laboratory
Illinois Public Media
Illinois Informatics Institute
Institute of Communications Research
Product Design Laboratory, Industrial & Enterprise Systems Engineering Department
Social Innovation at Illinois
Spurlock Museum
Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative, College of Business
African American Studies
Asian American Studies
Comparative and World Literature
Latino/a Studies
Media and Cinema Studies
Allen Hall/Unit One LLC
Critical Technologies Lab
Innovation LLC
Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory
Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
Office of Undergraduate Research
University Library
Makerspace Urbana

About Design Dialogues: At Illinois, thinking about design, talking about design, and doing design is a central part of what we do. It is in our history. The University of Illinois was established 150 years ago under a land-grant mission that transformed education, and today, we continue to develop new initiatives that push for more inclusive, interdisciplinary design. This speaker series contributes to this exciting set of activities by highlighting a number of aspects of the design process that may sometimes be marginalized or overlooked. Our invited speakers will help us all—designers, users, and the broader campus community alike—think about how to make the design process more inclusive in terms of its products, process, and practice. Inclusive design is not achieved by simply saying “we are inclusive”; explicit design interventions are required. As the University of Illinois’s own investments in design enter into an expanded phase to foster a new generation of multi-disciplinary twenty-first century design thinkers, this speakers series invites cross-campus engagements and dialogues to think through the potential for designing distinctly, inclusively, and purposefully.