Emerging Technology and Innovation in Society Research Network

The Emerging Technology and Innovation in Society Research Network is seeking to build a joint research culture between social sciences, humanities (SSH) and science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) to create a new approach to, and deliver a new understanding of, socio-technological innovation, which adopts a holistic view of scientific, technological and social progress.

It will bring together critical SSH understanding of technologies within their social context, and broader institutions, practices or research within innovation ecosystems.

At every level and in almost every domain, extant technologies have significantly changed the ways in which we think about and experience most aspects of our days-to-day lives, with direct implications for our collective lives, our environment and our political processes. Emerging technologies currently on the horizon promise to be as, and potentially even more, socially transformative than those that have emerged in recent decades. However, such technologies are often being researched, developed, funded and advocated for now, without adequate critical understanding, oversight, or discussion, of their social desirability, their trustworthiness, or how they might fundamentally change the way we conceive of, work towards and exist in future societies.

A core focus of this research network will be to develop new ways understanding the nature and processes of innovation – how emerging technologies arise and are implemented – within their broader social, economic, cultural and institutional contexts. Placing social concerns, impacts, and envisioned socio-technical futures at the heart of how we understand innovation processes.

The research network  draws on expertise and ground-breaking research carried out across the University of Birmingham to:

  • Adopt a whole system-based approaches to understanding the social and cultural contexts of innovation institutions, processes and practices.
  • Place critical engagement with real world social concerns, cultural narratives, public perceptions and trust at the heart of our understanding innovation processes and practices.
  • Proactively explore how we can collectively re-envision future innovation pathways and co-create new pro-social technologies. 

Our collective social and technical futures are interwoven, meaning that transformative technological changes have the potential to either exacerbate existing societal inequities or alleviate them. However, we are living in a time of growing divergence between technological innovation and some of the most pressing societal needs. There is an urgent need for rigorous, systemic research upstream of the emergence of new technologies to navigate and help bridge this gap between technological innovation processes and publics within globally diverse societies.

Professor Fern Elsdon-Baker, Director of ISTEMMiCS

Related research projects

Network leaders

Network members