Opening the Black Box – the Creative Role of Environmental Expertise in Co-Designing Mining Technology

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Henriette RUTJES, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH - UFZ, Germany
Martin DAVID, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
Alena BLEICHER, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Germany
Development of environmental technologies usually happens in the context of their application. This means that it takes the form of what has been called “collective experimentation” by engaging non-scientific actors such as local people, authorities, or civil society organizations in scientific knowledge production.

Taking the case of developing less invasive and environmental friendly technologies for exploration and exploitation of so called critical raw materials in Germany, within this presentation we will focus on the role that expertise of environmental administrations plays within technology development. This expertise is a combination of different forms of knowledge: scientific and administrative knowledge as well as knowledge related to a specific place (local knowledge). It is actively integrated into processes of scientific knowledge production when it comes to permitting activities of research projects such as sampling, or testing of technologies and methods. This is a common practice and usually it is not assumed that administrative expertise strongly impact research results. We will request this assumption.

Decisions of experts in environmental administration who are not part of the respective research project shape not only the organizational structure (e.g. budget calculated for sampling) but also the content of research projects (e.g. taking up questions to the research agenda posed by experts from administration) and lead to rather unintended co-production of knowledge in projects of technology development. Thereby processes such as the definition of proximity or distance of environmental expertise and mining expertise or the identification of strategies in administration to deal with nonknowledge caused by research questions, come into play.

By relying on conceptual ideas from practice theory and organizational theory we will reveal mechanisms that underlie collective experimentation in which scientific and administrative environmental knowledge are brought together.