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School of History and Sociology

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Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 40
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    Truth under Siege: Making Climate Knowledge in an Age of Transparency, Skepticism, and Science Denial
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-11-11) Edwards, Paul N.
    This talk examines the history of environmental data systems in the context of the current US administration’s assault on environmental science. Tracking and understanding environmental change requires scientific memory, aka “long data”: consistent, reliable sampling over long periods. Weather observations can become climate data, for example — but only if carefully curated and adjusted to account for changes in instrumentation and data analysis methods. Environmental knowledge institutions therefore depend on an ongoing truce among scientific and political actors. For at least 25 years, climate denialism and deregulatory movements have sought to destabilize this truce, which nevertheless has held until recently. Since 2017, however, climate change deniers and non-scientist ideologues have been appointed to lead key American knowledge institutions. These leaders, and the White House itself, view certain environmental data systems as targets, which they may yet succeed in crippling or completely dismantling. These developments threaten the continuity of the “long data” vital to tracking climate change and other environmental disruptions, with significant consequences for both domestic and international security.
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    Race space: The transformation of iconic motorsport circuits from public use to large technical system (1950 – 2010)
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-07-23) Westin, Peter Gustav
    The 1950s marked the beginning of a key transformational period in automobility and the socio-technical realm of motorsports. However, the car was not at the heart of the narrative which was much more complex. In Post-War Europe, people began to drive for pleasure on weekends and holidays while in the US, this extant access was supplanted by the quest for more status-oriented and powerful cars. On both continents it was also the time when motorsporting activities became formally organized and regulated with the creation of the globally oriented Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA) in Paris, France and the American oriented North American Stock Car Automobile Racing (NASCAR) in Daytona Beach, Florida (US). This chronicle is a transnational examination of motorsport’s place in automotive technology and culture as well as of unique motorsport sites with physically shifting landscapes and tensions that cascaded across socio-cultural strains, technological innovation, and regulation. I locate this ambitious narrative at an intersection where several themes are fused together incorporating my interpretation of Thomas Hughes’ concept of large-technical systems in conjunction with Manuel Castells’ notion regarding highly technical nodes of a transnational business network, environ-mental complexity, easier mobility in Europe and America from proliferation of roadway networks, postwar consumption and increased “time budgets” coupled with technological enthusiasm, and coproduced hegemony instrumental to this evolution. Over time these would coalesce into a heterogenous network reliant upon multiple actors. According to Hughes’s model there are four phases: invention and development, interregional technology transfer, system growth, momentum. While not yet a transnational network in the first phase, motorsports grew to become inextricably intertwined globally. This growth also complicated the relationship between technology, regulation, and the environment. Further as people earned more (especially in Europe) they learned to be a consumer and with more free time they could take vacations and drive to races. Enthusiasts formed social networks and communities of DIY car clubs, fan clubs, clubs for specific automotive brands, amateur driving clubs, and Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA). Active participants who were initially hobbyists and mechanics transformed into professional drivers and engineers as they learned to apply scientific principles like fluid dynamics, and methods like modeling to designing very complex machines. These heterogenous networks incorporating what became large technical systems and their socio-cultural dynamics illustrate that the car was not central.
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    Engineering Shanghai: Water, sewage, and the making of hydraulic modernity
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-05-08) Shen, Xincheng
    This dissertation explores the water technologies in Shanghai from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century and in what ways the infrastructures – the drainage system, the water supply, culverted rivers, the water closet, and the water-carriage sewer system – played a role in the shaping of the cityscape, economics, and politics of Shanghai. While previous scholarship has engaged the social aspect of city water engineering, especially with respect to hygiene and its relation to growing state intervention, this dissertation focuses on the engineering work itself, indicating that the concept of being modern might be an aspiration, but it was the material and practical aspects of water engineering that laid the ground and set the rules for government intervention. Only within the spatial and economic limits allowed by the engineering feasibility could the authorities materialize political influence. Following the Introduction, Chapters 2-5 discuss components of the engineering system in Shanghai – drainage, waterworks, culvert, and sewage treatment. An exhaustive look at the technical details provides us with better explanations as to why foreign technologies were accepted and in what context decisions were made by authorities. Despite these works being the embodiment of state-of-the-art Western knowledge, what facilitated their local adoption were practical and mundane concerns. Chapters 6-8 discuss how economics competition and political struggle prior to WWII played out in the context of growing engineering sophistication between actors such as corporations, consumers, political authorities from the city to the state, and from Chinese to foreigners. Chapter 9 offers a criticism about the ill-fitting, conventional concept of modernity for China studies and calls for a new theoretical framework within which the question of development could be answered in light of the incremental improvements in engineering practices. The thesis of this research is to propose the concept of hydraulic modernity. The contention here is that practical aspects of the technocratic-engineering system of city water dictated the pattern of engineering works and consequently influenced how political and economic capital were organized for the system to achieve greater capacity and homogeneity, the two criteria used to measure the development of a system in this dissertation. The former indicates the maximum output of an engineering system and the latter points to the reduction of the number of heterogeneous interest groups inside a technocratic-engineering system in order to lower the risk of malfunction. Modernization of Shanghai was not driven by top-down infusion of knowledge, etiquette, and ideology, but a process of meticulous interconnection of layers of technocratic-engineering systems, upon which further institutionalization of social actors was able to come into being.
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    Mobilizing History: Reflections on a Decade of Digital Humanities Practice on Two Continents
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-04-08) Doshi, Ameet ; Souther, J. Mark
    This event will combine the traditional lecture and a live-recorded interview with the producers of the “Lost in the Stacks” podcast, as Souther reflects on his experience in modeling innovative platforms and processes for university-based community engagement through digital public history. He will show how a decade-long development initiative at an urban public university created Curatescape, a pioneering mobile app and cast a city (Cleveland, Ohio) as both a virtual museum and a learning laboratory for doing history in and with the public. Souther will also discuss how Curatescape has helped build a sense of place in urban communities locally and, for the past four years, internationally through an extension of the project to adapt the platform and process in ways to facilitate their viability in the developing world. With two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Souther and his team have collaborated with partners in Kenya to engage the public in “curating” Kenya’s third-largest city, Kisumu. He will share the successes and challenges that came with this endeavor to build capacity for digital humanities practice across the digital divide.
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    Winning real food on campus: The role of opportunity structures, strategic capacity, and identity in the outcomes of student campaigns
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2018-11-05) Hull, Rebecca A. Watts
    U.S. college campuses have been important sites of protest and social movement activity since the Civil Rights and New Left movements of the 1960s. Despite this, the outcomes of student activism have received relatively little attention from social movement scholars. This dissertation addresses this gap by investigating the impact of Real Food Challenge (RFC), a U.S. social movement organization (SMO) supporting student campaigns to shift campus dining toward sources that meet its multifaceted criteria for sustainability, while also building a youth movement to transform the global food system. RFC campaign outcomes vary widely; some have won institutional commitments to reach 20 percent “real food” by 2020, while others have made little progress toward that objective. This study uses national, quantitative analysis to identify geographic factors that may influence campaign outcomes. An in-depth, qualitative case comparison of four RFC campaigns examines contextual, organizational, and strategic variables shaping progress and outcomes in this emerging field of student activism. The national analysis reveals a modest regional advantage for schools in Pacific Coast and Northeastern states. Related data from the qualitative study suggest a complex relationship between political context, university orientation toward conventional agribusiness, and administrative response to RFC campaigns. In addition to geo-political context, the qualitative study suggests that openness to student petitions and campus culture also influence administrative response to RFC activism. Collective identity, campaign movement priorities, and strategic choices of activists, in relation to contextual variables, also significantly influence student progress toward winning “real food.” The results point to the significance of tactical and frame alignment for effective student activism. They also suggest greater attention among federated SMOs supporting campaigns operating in widely differing contexts to flexibility and cultivating strategic capacity.
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    A Conversation with Wyomia Tyus: Olympic Gold Medalist in 1964 and 1968
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2018-09-16) Tyus, Wyomia ; Thomas, Damion ; Royster, Jacqueline Jones ; McDonald, Mary G. ; Curry, Bill
    In marking the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, media coverage has focused on John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s courageous stance in raising black fists to protest racial injustice on the 200-meter victory stand. This event will highlight Wyomia Tyus’ role in this protest as she dedicated her Olympic medals to Carlos and Smith’s efforts. As a Georgia native who grew up in the Jim Crow South, Ms. Tyus is uniquely positioned to discuss the continuing need for gender and racial justice as well as to reflect upon the importance of sport’s role in helping to promote social change.
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    The role of engineering technology as a pathway for African Americans into the field of engineering
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2018-05-21) Dempsey, Ron D.
    Engineering Technology serves as a potential pathway for African Americans into engineering. Yet research and data demonstrate that African Americans are severely underrepresented in the field of engineering. This study examines the role that engineering technology plays in the field of engineering and its impact on African Americans as a potential pathway in the field. The study employs conflict sociology and Critical Race Theory as theoretical frameworks and uses a mixed methodology for data collection. This study’s primary data are derived from the 2014 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and from a survey and interviews of engineering technology faculty and alumni from Purdue University and Southern Polytechnic State University. Pearson’s Chi-Square Tests of Independence are conducted on data derived from these sources. Descriptive analysis is conducted on additional data collected from institutional curriculums and state licensing sites. This study has the following major findings. First, African Americans graduate at a higher percentage rate from 4-year bachelor degree engineering technology programs than from 4-year bachelor degree engineering programs. Second, engineering technology alumni, including African Americans graduates, chose engineering technology due to issues of program costs, program flexibility with employment, and the hands-on pedagogy of engineering technology. Third, though these engineering technology graduates were employed as engineers and not as engineering technologists, barriers exist for graduates of engineering technology programs such as achieving licensing as a professional engineering, obtaining federal engineering jobs, and being perceived a subordinate to those with engineering degrees. The study concludes that engineering technology is a potential pathway into the field of engineering for many individuals, especially African Americans, and, therefore, recommends it be given equal status alongside engineering programs with appropriate curriculum changes. The advantages of such an engineering educational system include the accommodations of multiple learning styles (applied versus theoretical, abstract versus embedded mathematics), an educational system that is more correctly aligned with the industry, a flattening of the engineering hierarchy, and most importantly, a legitimized and equal pathway into engineering that better aligns with the life experiences of African Americans.
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    Flood control and metropolitan development in Houston, Miami and Tampa, 1935-1985
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2018-04-10) Bea-Taylor, Jonah
    This research focuses on three Southeastern cities – Houston, Miami, and Tampa – that are particularly vulnerable to the repercussions of climate change because of their successful development on coastal plains. The rapid development of these sites from small cities into major regional centers in the decades after World War Two depended on federally-sponsored systems of canals, dams, and reservoirs for controlling floods and supplying fresh water. There was a similar sequence of events that were repeated a little more than a decade apart in each city: A major flood galvanized civic leaders to lobby for federal funding for flood control. Infrastructure designed by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect the cities took between one and two decades to complete; rapid growth coincided with construction of levees, dams, and pumping stations, land values increased, and environmental concerns became more prominent in each location. These factors combined ultimately led to critical modifications of the flood control systems. Flood control helped stabilize a trajectory of rapid growth that was already underway in each city. By managing a natural hazard, it helped each city fulfill its destiny as a regional center. But that destiny had the unforeseen effect of making it much harder to complete the flood control projects as originally designed.
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    Modernity and the spirit of the sea: Maritime influences on early modern English state institutions and society, 1485-1763
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2018-03-29) McKittrick, Paul Joseph
    Beginning in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Europeans developed and applied science and technology in a project of oceanic exploration, trade, and colonization, that when coupled with messianic fervor, entrepreneurial energy, and imperial ambition, was truly world-changing. It is the purpose of this thesis to examine the concomitant development of institutions of the modern state and the society that emerged in the Early Modern period, with a specific focus upon England from the Tudor dynasty through the Georgian era. Atlantic maritime programs did not produce modernity, but did play an integral role in its fitful emergence, especially in this most nautically focused island nation. It is my contention that the modern nation state and society - centrally organized and secretive; bureaucratically controlled; invested in scientific progress for economic and political aggrandizement; capitalist; technologically dependent and adaptable; and industrial in both economics and war - was both a product and a source of European, and specifically English dominance at sea. The rewards for its maritime prominence were profound as England’s naval and merchant fleets came to dominate all the earth’s oceans throughout the nineteenth century.
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    Evolution of United States telecommunications policy, technology, and competition at the Bell Operating Companies 1952-1996
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2017-10-13) Drews, Wayne R.
    Attention is focused on the local Bell Operating Companies (BOCs) and to the changes initially driven by competition in Customer Premises Equipment (CPE). The federal court’s decision in January 1982 resulted in AT&T’s divestiture of the BOCs and permanently changed the landscape. This study begins well before 1982 to consider the AT&T’s tradition of control over all telephone services and the significance of losing that control. The terminal, subscriber loop, central office switches, and interoffice trunks had for many years been the exclusive province of the regulated telephone operating companies. Communications lines and terminals were indivisible and installation of any subscriber-owned equipment violated federal and state tariffs and carried the penalty of service disconnection. The demise of that tradition occurred because of technology evolution, initiatives of competitors, changes in customer requirements, AT&T responses, and ultimately the actions of governmental bodies. To fully appreciate impacts of the court-ordered divestiture and the ramifications of various adjustments necessary by the divested BOCs, mandated that this study extends into the years of the mid-nineties. Even though most historical attention rests with AT&T Headquarters. The BOCs were key to the processes. Archives of the BOCs were explored and provided details previously unstudied by historians. Other primary sources were media accounts, proceedings of governmental agencies and industry forums, and interviews of individuals involved in the events. The Bell System attitude of invincibility was a significant factor leading to their loss. In the end, a break-up would be done and open competition delivered significant benefits.