Description: Inspired by insights from the field of science and technology studies (STS) many PhD students are struggling with ’straddling the divide’ between the social and the technical, natural and/or the material. Although qualitative research lends itself well to studies of this kind, the questions of how to avoid privileging either side of the divide and how to bring out the complexities of the issues studied are quite vexing.

This course addresses the dilemmas and challenges that PhD students face when seeking to address questions regarding sustainability, innovation and design from an STS perspective. Qualitative research is a rich and divergent field with many paradigms, approaches and techniques. It is also contested terrain with regard to how to capture and present insights from the field. The course seeks to provide PhD students with a variety of ’tricks of the trade’ about how to do so. Emphasis will be given to e.g. doing ethnographic studies and to participatory and collaborative methods in which the researcher engages actively with people in the field.

The course provides an overview of the different approaches to qualitative research and their theoretical underpinnings, but focuses on the specific challenges and concerns of the participants. Emphasis is given to whys and hows of doing qualitative research within the broad domain of sustainability, innovation and design studies. The key aim is to enable the PhD students critically assess the traditions/approaches and practices of qualitative research in relation to their own research questions. To this end, the course is based on a number of short lectures and workshops, in which the participants’ projects and research approach are discussed at length. As a prerequisite participants are expected to submit a 5-page paper prior to the course describing/motivating their research design and highlighting the challenges that they face in developing convincing empirical accounts.

Indicative literature:
• Becker, H., 1998. Tricks of the Trade: How to Think About Your Research While Doing It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
• Silverman, D. 2006. Interpreting qualitative data. London: SAGE Publ.
• Van Maanen, J. 1998. Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
• And a select series of articles.

Organizer: Susse Georg,, Torben Elgaard Jensen, and Hanne Lindegaard,



Time: 2-4 December, 2014

Place: Aalborg University, Copenhagen: A.C. Meyers Vænge 15, room ACM15 4.058

Zip code: 2450

City: Copenhagen

Number of seats: 20

Deadline: 11 November, 2014