The RESET master’s program combines rigorous training in Science and Technology Studies with a special focus on issues of responsibility and hands-on immersive learning based on case studies and projects. Here are some examples of RESET projects.
Immersion Project Examples (M.A. RESET, 1st Semester)
Responsible Innovation and Global Governance in Neuroscience (winter semester 17/18)
This immersion project explored responsible innovation in brain science and technology. Using a comparative perspective, students looked at “brain projects” across the globe (such as the Human Brain Project or the BRAIN Initiative) and studied different sets of recommendations and reports to identify similarities and differences for dealing responsibly with neuroscience and neurotechnology across countries and regions (e.g. Europe, the US, China, and Latin America).
Manufacturing Responsibility? Case Studies of an Industrial Trade Show (winter semester 17/18)
This immersion project focused on Responsible Research and Innovation at Euromold, one of the leading trade fairs for machine tools, product development and additive manufacturing (3D printing). Students explored how the idea of Responsible Innovation is translated from policy papers to corporate action and how it impacts product design.
Gene Editing – Knowledge Production and Responsibility (winter semester 18/19)
Recent techniques of gene editing such as CRISPR/Cas9 appear to be more precise than prior gene modifying tools, and are seen as a promising way to cure various heritable diseases or to improve agricultural yields. In Europe, there are many legal, political and ethical uncertainties regarding CRISPR/Cas9, despite broad public discussion. The aim of this immersion project was to outline the different and ambiguous implications and ramifications of gene editing in order to address questions of the social, ethical and environmental impacts resulting from novel gene editing approaches. The students were invited to TUM’s School of Life Sciences to discuss this topic with experts, and to gain insights into the researchers’ working environment, research goals and principles.
Brave New World of Work (winter semester 18/19)
In this project, students explored new ways of working and the socio-material configurations of new working spaces by empirically investigating the design and use of new office concepts, planning processes and working situations. The project included a field trip to the Microsoft headquarters in Munich, Germany. On a tour of the premises, they learned how the organization envisions current and future forms of work. With examples like Microsoft’s workspaces, the project group analyzed and discussed its findings through the lens of Science and Technology Studies as it addressed fundamental questions such as “What are the conditions and effects of certain developments?” and “How do they alter the distribution of responsibilities?”.
E-Mobility: The Future of Transportation in the City? (winter semester 19/20)
Electric vehicles have been touted by various parties as a crucial solution to a wide range of urban transportation problems: electric cars can make a major contribution to reducing CO2 emissions and other forms of pollution while e-scooters and e-bikes offer alternative means to dealing with congestion, health risks, and mobility limitations. In this immersion project, students explored the role these emerging technologies play in competing visions of future urban transportation systems and discussed related responsibility questions. One of the highlights of the project was an e-scooter tour of Munich.
Free Speech and the Internet (winter semester 19/20)
Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of liberal democracy and widely considered a basic human right. But what does this liberty mean in the Age of the Internet, and what are the conditions for and limits of free speech on the World Wide Web and social media? This project examined issues of responsibility related to the regulation and implementation of information technologies from an ethical perspective. Students developed an independent ethical assessment of a concrete current or recent case, and actively utilized a broad range of empirical findings and methods from fields such as media studies, history of technology, gender studies, digital anthropology, and political data science.
Examples of Projects Conducted within the Skills Course “Meaningful Project Management” (M.A. RESET, 2nd Semester)
Gallery of Diversity
This project intended to shed light on different aspects of diversity through a photo gallery at TUM’s main campus. The group wanted to empower individuals from TUM’s community to express and materialize their understanding of diversity by photographs representing a wide range of different interpretations of diversity (as defined by the individual contributors).
CLOTHstainable – Sustainable Clothing
The overall objective of CLOTHstainable was to contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by inducing a shift from the detrimental fast fashion to sustainable clothing production and consumption. The approach was to bring together students and sustainable clothing experts during a field trip to several sustainable clothing businesses in Munich. Based on the insights of this field trip, and in order to reach more students, the group created a leaflet about sustainable clothing.
This project aimed at raising awareness for the fact that values are embedded in certain technologies and that technologies are therefore deeply political. The group’s approach was to write a blog (www.technologymatters.de), in which they portrayed three cases to illustrate how values are embedded in technologies. They increased the traffic on their blog through social media campaigns and by distributing posters and stickers at TUM and the STS.
ExTraCurricular Student Projects M.A. Reset ANd M.A. STS
In addition to working on curricular projects, students are also very engaged in extracurricular student projects including:
Students have created a web portal on the STS website, which enables them to publicize their research within the STS’ master’s programs, i.e. the essays they write and the podcasts and videos they produce. A key ambition of this project is to make scientific knowledge in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) available to a broader public in an accessible manner and showcase student activities at the STS.
This student project is concerned with how STS-relevant knowledge can be incorporated in the process of creating physical and virtual artifacts. By doing so, the students want to explore how stories and narratives of science and technology can be told but also informed by the interaction with their recipients.
Sophia Knopf: Safeguarding Neurotechnology For and Against Society Ethical and Social Responsibility and the Governance of Emerging Technologies in the Private Sector
“In my master thesis, I explored the question how actors in the consumer neurotechnology industry understand, frame, practice and enact ethical and social responsibility. With a background in communication science and psychology, the ethical, legal and social challenges of neurotechnology have always been a fascinating topic for me, which I was now able to deepen from a governance perspective in the final thesis.”
Tracy Phillips née Schmorleitz: An Analysis of American Zero Waste Blogs: Exploring Responsibility through Grounded Theory
“My thesis examined the way American zero waste blog authors present the zero waste lifestyle to their audience as a responsible practice. The term “zero waste” connotates normatively “good” practices of reducing the amount of waste one generates in an effort to reduce one’s environmental impact and, ultimately, protect the health of the earth for future generations. In many cases, topics of plastic waste take center stage, as single-use plastic items are often considered normatively “easy” to phase out of your life and replace with natural alternatives. In the end, I present a theory suggesting that the zero waste lifestyle was conceptualized by blog authors as a responsible practice based on how achievable it is. I chose this topic for two reasons: First, because it “fit” the research scope of the STS and my other master’s program (MSLEP, now discontinued); second, out of personal interest stemming from the impact the movement has had on minorities and underrepresented groups. COVID-19 has opened up a lot of new possibilities for research in this space as disposable masks, gloves, and other PPE become necessary to public health. Good follow-up research could ask: What are the societal and environmental impacts of COVID-19 waste?”
Julia Renninger: Making Futures Plausible: How Living Labs (De-)Stabilize Smart Energy Pioneers in Germany and the EU
“In my thesis, I took a closer look at innovation processes in the name of “Energiewende” and studied niche actors that communicate their vision of the future energy system via living labs. A Living lab in this context would be a district of village that experiments with new forms of energy production and distribution on a small scale. I accompanied two cases, one in Hamburg and one at Lake Constance, conducted several interviews and dove into the complex world of building a new energy system that caters to locally specific, social, regulatory and economic needs. My thesis is embedded into the EU-funded research project SCALINGS, that compares collaborative innovation processes across 10 European countries and several technological domains.”