Edward (Ned) Woodhouse
Professor, Science and Technology Studies
Edward Woodhouse researches how political-economic institutions can improve the governance of technological civilization and analyzes science and technology policy, seeking wiser, fairer solutions that those now prevailing. He has specifically worked on topics including toxic chemicals and chemical greening, civilian nuclear reactors and radioactive wastes, weaponry, and overconsumption by the affluent.
Many professors at RPI and in universities around the world confuse their own pursuits with the needs of ordinary people, including the taxpayers who support most research.
“In studying what is fundable and 'interesting,' most faculty – however well intentioned - fail to direct their work toward correcting egregious problems and assisting the world's poorest. Those in computing and related fields accelerate the pace of life beyond what is sensible; biomedical researchers drive up the cost of medicine; engineers catalyze sophisticated new capacities (robotics, synthetic biology, weaponry) that existing cultures are ill-prepared to handle wisely; and many technically oriented faculty implicitly teach their students that more science and technology can take the place of social, political, and economic reform,” said Woodhouse. “I attempt, in at least a feeble way, to work against these tendencies by calling attention to the deficiencies of existing systems for governing technology, and by proposing new systems that would not require angelic behavior in order to incentivize and otherwise channel those on university campuses, in the business world, and in government to direct their energies less unwisely and less unfairly."
Among his current work, Woodhouse is writing a textbook –for use in science and society courses –to serve as a guide to the wise and fair use of science and technology in society. Woodhouse is also writing a Utopian novel with the same themes as the textbook set in a fictional narrative.
His other projects include research on 3D printing in decentralized manufacturing/repair, with positive impact on bioregionalism and environmental sustainability, and he continues a decades-long study of chemical greening and barriers to the practice.
Recently published work includes book chapters “Stealthy Killers and Governing Mentalities: Chemicals in Consumer Products," in Killer Commodities: Public Health and the Corporate Production of Harm; “Nanotechnology, Green Chemistry, and the Privileged Position of Science,” in The New Political Sociology of Science; and scholarly articles “Green Chemistry As Social Movement?” in Science, Technology, & Human Values; and “(Re)Constructing Technological Society by Taking Social Construction Even More Seriously,” in Social Epistemology.
Ph.D., Political Science, Yale University
B.A., Political Science, UC Santa Barbara