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[Athena] école d'été

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  • From: sabine.barles AT
  • To: athena AT
  • Subject: [Athena] école d'été
  • Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2007 06:39:19 +0200

!!! deadline approaching!!!


to the
Interdisciplinary PhD Summer School

Technologies and their Environments:
The Circulation of Materials, People, and Knowledge in 20th-Century Europe

organized by
the Graduate School "Topology of Technology"
the International Collaborative Network "Tensions of Europe"

This interdisciplinary PhD summer school explores the embedding of modern
technologies in their environments through concepts such as "circulation,"
"metabolism," and "ubiquity." Focusing on 20th-century Europe, it investigates
how technology has become so closely intertwined with its surroundings that
old distinction between culture and nature no longer seems to make sense.
Rivers like the Rhine have been turned into traffic arteries, and Scandinavian
forests have been transformed into plantations. To supply Europe with fresh
tomatoes and masses of tourists with fresh water, Andalusian wells are
drilled up to 1 km deep and surface water is being piped in from ever more
distant areas. Quickened by the globalization of the world's economy and the
internationalization of engineering knowledge, technologies now span the world
and threaten to reduce the earth to little more than a source of raw
Fresh air and water—what in Europe used to be called "common goods"—are not
only becoming increasingly rare, but also increasingly commercialized.

The summer school explicitly problematizes and historizes these developments.
It asks how the situation just described has evolved and by what means these
negative developments may be arrested or deflected. Its focus lies on
20th-century Europe, but comparisons with other parts of the globe will also
undertaken and the successive globalization of environmental problems will be

The one-week course takes familiar discourses as its point of departure. For
example, critical philosophers, historians, and sociologists have for some
now analyzed our dependence on technology by speaking of a "second nature,"
concerned scientists and engineers have tried to reduce the “environmental
impact” of production processes and products. In technology studies concepts
such as "infrastructure," "system," and "network" have been applied to analyze
the close relationship between technology and society, and in environmental
studies the impact of our lifestyle has been investigated by means of a
like "ecological footprint."

The organizers of the summer school acknowledge the importance of these
approaches, but wish to go one step further. By exploring the potentials of
so-called spatial turn in the social sciences and the humanities, they hope to
contribute both theoretically and methodologically to the development of a
"topology of technology." This implies that we encourage applications from PhD
students who deal with spatial aspects of technology. Students who are
interested in the potential of a topological approach for understanding the
technological integration of Europe are especially welcome.

The organizers invite PhD candidates from various fields to spend one week
together to discuss the historical origins and future challenges of a system
that has become increasingly problematic to sustain. Only by combining
and perspectives from several disciplines will it be possible to increase our
awareness of the increasing omni-presence of technological systems and
in various environments. The program is deliberately interdisciplinary, and
teachers come from history, sociology, and engineering.

Time and Place

The summer school will be held 8–13 July, 2007, at the Jakobsberg monastery,
beautifully situated, overlooking the Rhine valley, ca. 40 km west of


The course will be taught by teachers from three countries and representing
three disciplines:
- Sabine Barles, Paris, France
- Cornelis Disco, Twente, Netherlands
- Mikael Hård, Darmstadt, Germany
- Dieter Schott, Darmstadt, Germany
- Wilhelm Urban, Darmstadt, Germany
- Heike Weber, Darmstadt, Germany
All teachers will be present throughout the whole week and will, in addition
giving a plenary lecture, be available for group discussions and for
participation in the presentation of the individual PhD projects.

Program Structure

The topics of the five days are:
Monday, 9 July: Circulation and Metabolism as Analytic Concepts
Tuesday, 10 July: Resource Management in Europe and Overseas
Wednesday, 11 July: The Industrialization of Nature
Thursday, 12 July: Streams of Waste in the Consumer Society
Friday, 13 July: The Spatial Turn in Technology Studies: Summary and Outlook

The program consists of:
- plenary lectures (45 min.) given by the teachers, and additional time (30
min.) for questions and discussion
- group discussions (45 min.) on the basis of the lectures and pre-circulated
reading material (a total of 6 groups, each joined by one of the teachers,
minutes to be kept by one participant)
- presentations (20 min.) by PhD candidates of individual projects (in 2
parallel sessions), followed by discussion (20 min.)
- an excursion on the Rhine
- shared meals and social events

Requirements and Credits
All participating PhD candidates are expected
- to read the provided set of texts (ca. 300 pages) in preparation
the course
- to take an active part in discussions
- to give a 20-minute oral presentation in English on their
dissertation theme
In addition, those students who wish to receive a diploma need to submit a
15-page (6,000 words) paper in English on one aspect of their dissertation or
on a topic discussed in the course before 15 Sept., 2007. Students who fulfill
all these requirements will receive a diploma for 6 ECTS credits (work load:
180 hours) from the organizers.


The summer school is organized by the graduate school "Topology of
a newly established program at Darmstadt University of Technology, funded by
the German Research Council (DFG)
(, and by the international
collaborative network and research program "Tensions of Europe," coordinated
the Foundation for the History of Technology at Eindhoven University of
Technology ( The goal of the interdisciplinary
graduate school is to improve our knowledge of the spatial aspects of
change and usage. In the Tensions of Europe research network the ambition is
get a better understanding of the emergence of Europe by using concepts such
circulation and appropriation of technologies and knowledge.


The participation fee amounts to 195 €, incl. (subsidized) accommodation for
five nights in a double-room and full board, but excl. travel costs. All
additional local costs will be carried by "Topology of Technology" and
"Tensions of Europe." PhD candidates who are not able to raise the necessary
amount for travel and lodging may apply for funds.


PhD candidates interested in the topic are invited to apply. An application,
including a curriculum vitae and a one-page abstract of the PhD project,
be submitted no later than Tuesday, 10 April 2007, to
topologie AT Applications for travel grants or fee waivers
have to be accompanied by a declaration of the candidate's economic situation
and institutional affiliation.

The summer school is planned for 34 participants. In case more students apply,
the organizers reserve for themselves the right to make a suitable selection.
Please direct any questions you might have to Mikael Hård
(hard AT, tel. +49-61 51 16 30 97) or Dieter Schott
(schott AT, tel. +49-61 51 16 20 44).

  • [Athena] école d'été, sabine . barles, 04/03/2007

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