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Community Spotlight: Q&A with Thad Miller

Who are you? 

Thaddeus Miller, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning; Faculty Fellow, Institute for Sustainable Solutions; Associated Faculty, National Science Foundation IGERT Ecosystem Services for Urbanizing Regions; Affiliate, Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes, Arizona State University. 

What are you working on right now?

The project I'm most excited about working on at the moment explores the relationship between smart cities and sustainability. This research uses smart cities and information and communication technologies as a window into understanding how science and technology are being developed and deployed in cities to meet sustainability goal and visions. Using comparative and theoretical approaches from science and technology studies, I'm exploring smart city developments in London, Barcelona, and New York City. Thanks to ISS funding, I'll be making research trips to all three cities this summer to perform interviews. 

What’s the one thing you want the sustainability community to know about what you’re doing?

 I recently wrapped up the Futurescape City Tours. Coordinated by the NSF-funded Center for Nanotechnology in Society (CNS) at Arizona State University, the Futurescapes Tour explores, through deliberative methodologies including a walking tour and photography, how publics in different cities view the role of emerging technologies in their lives and how they shape their cities. The Portland tour, which I led in the fall of 2013, was run in conjunction with five other cities throughout the U.S. and Canada—Phoenix, AZ (Arizona State University), St. Paul, MN (Macalester College), Washington, DC (Virginia Tech), Springfield, MA (UMass-Amherst), and Edmonton, Canada (University of Alberta). The aim of this comparative study is to explore novel participatory methods of citizen engagement in science and technology decisions. The tours are not designed to predict future technologies, but instead to create the capacity to think about the ethical and social implications of a variety of technologies and how we can shape them to achieve the future we desire.

The tours illustrate the importance of engaging citizens in the social, political, and ethical dimensions of technological change to both understand and shape sustainability.

If you'd like to learn more about the Futurescapes project, please attend my upcoming CityWise lecture on May 14. Click here for more information.

What’s your favorite thing about being a part of Portland State? 

Our deep commitment to broad-based community engagement, particularly around sustainability.

What is your dream job? 

I’ve got it!