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Elizabeth Reddy

Lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology, Bucknell University

CASTAC Co-Chair and Contributor, Platypus: The CASTAC Blog

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Contributions to Platypus: The CASTAC Blog

View all of Elizabeth's posts on Platypus: The CASTAC Blog.

The Earthquake Early Warning System that the West Coast (Almost) Already Has

1. West Coast earthquakes

People on the West Coast of the U.S. see movies about seismic disaster in their major cities. They read articles about forecasting and safety strategies. They retrofit their buildings, buy insurance, and worry. When I tell them about my research on earthquake early warning systems in Mexico, they ask me, “Why don’t we have something like that here?”

Networks of sensors arrayed across territory are set up around the world to register earth motion and send warnings to users speedily enough to warn them seconds or even minutes before the quake hits. Mexico’s was the first to make alerts available to the public almost a quarter of a century ago, and today there are similar systems around the world.

The fact is that we are going to have something similar on the West Coast, too, though it depends on how you define “we.” Tremendous strides have been made in the last few years toward in making a demonstration earthquake early warning system called ShakeAlert function across a frankly massive swath of seismic geography. The technology is promising, but the way that it will be used remains troublingly vague. (more…)

Announcing the 2015 CASTAC Junior-Senior Mentor Program at AAA!

Now Recruiting for CASTAC Junior-Senior Mentor Program at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the AAA CASTAC, the Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing, seeks to support the professional development of scholars in the anthropology of science and technology. To this end, we are pleased to announce our second Junior-Senior Mentor Program for the 2015 AAA Annual Meeting in Denver. We invite faculty and researchers at all levels and career trajectories to participate in our mentorship program. CASTAC will match mentors and mentees according to overlapping research interests and facilitate their initial contact. Participants will then arrange a time to meet during the conference.  Meetings may last about an hour, potentially touching upon a range of topics such as funding, professionalization, job preparation, and new directions in STS and anthropology. As CASTAC members can attest from participating in this and similar programs at other conferences, mentorship is an invaluable source of information to early career scholars, and offers numerous returns for mentors as well, strengthening our field through the exchange of ideas and professional connections. If you are interested in participating as a mentor or mentee at the AAAs, please contact castac.aaa@gmail.com by Thursday, October 15st, 2015. We ask that in your e-mail you indicate whether you want to act as mentee, mentor, or both. If you would like to be a mentee, please include a brief paragraph about your current project, research interests, and challenges in your e-mail. If you would like to be a mentor, simply (more...)

Doing Critique in K-12: Kim Fortun on Ethnography, Environment, and the EcoEd Research Group

By Beth Reddy and Kim Fortun

Since 2012, the EcoEd Research Group (http://sustainabilityresearch.wp.rpi.edu/k-12-resources/eco-ed-program/) has run over thirty workshops in New York. The group brings faculty and college students (mostly from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) together with K-12 students in collaborative environmental education. EcoEd workshops have focused on green building, environmental photography, and county-level sustainability assessments, among other topics – engaging both the environment and education in new ways.

Dr. Kim Fortun is an anthropologist and professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at RPI, and has been a key participant in the development of EcoEd. I sent her a few simple questions about what EcoEd is up to and how she’s thinking about this kind of work. Her responses, below, touch on issues that won’t be unfamiliar to many CASTAC readers: experiments in ethnography and in the classroom that engage with what Fortun calls “late industrialism” in creative and critical ways.

Fortun: We think through what we have learned about environmental problems – how they play out, the conceptual and cultural challenges they pose – and then try to observe, read about and think through how environmental problems are out of synch with the education and thinking of U.S. kids – so that we can design and deliver K-12 curriculum that speaks to both. It is one way to make ethnographic knowledge “relevant;” it is one of many possible forms of activism.
(more…)