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Dr Stephen Hughes
Dr Stephen Hughes profile picture
  • Lecturer in Science, Technology and Society
  • Dept of Science & Technology Studies
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Dr Stephen Hughes is a Lecturer (Teaching) in Responsible Innovation and Director of UCL's Responsible Innovation short course. Stephen grew up in Co Wicklow, in Ireland and began his academic career studying English, Media and Cultural Studies at the Institute of Art, Design, and Technology in Dun Laoghaire.

Stephen is fascinated by cases where responsible innovation and public engagement with science are characterised by discomfort, difficulty, and controversy. He approaches these cases from a unique perspective and with novel methods which seek to uncover and respond to the affective, political, and material dimensions of technosocial issues.

Stephen has spent the last couple of years building UCL's programme of responsible innovation. This includes the delivery of workshops and online courses to EPSRC-funded centres for doctoral training (CDTs) and the development of a commercial short course that brings STS concepts around equity, justice, and responsibility in science, technology and innovation to industry. He teaches public engagement and responsible innovation to undergraduate and postgraduate students across faculties. Stephen is Wellbeing Champion for the Department of Science and Technology Studies and a member of the department's Equality and Equities committee.

Stephen has a PhD and MSc in Science Communication from Dublin City University, in which he explored public engagement with controversial technologies such as fracking.

Research Summary

Stephen's research focuses on the political and affective relationships at the interfaces of science, technology, and society. In particular, he is interested in how we can understand and respond to uncomfortable and difficult science-society relationships in order to develop more equitable and more just technosocial worlds. The core idea, here, is that, in confronting, rather than avoiding, the painful realities that science and technology can bring about, scientists, engineers, policymakers, and publics will be empowered to better, more caring, science and innovation.

Stephen is currently exploring the relationships between hype and conspiracy theories, and their affective dimensions, in augmented reality, extended reality, and touchless technologies. He is also studying what kind of ethical expectations we have for scientific researchers, especially around the notion of care

Teaching Summary

Stephen is happy to discuss potential supervision with undergraduate, postgraduate, or doctoral students. He welcomes and especially encourages people of all backgrounds, from underrepresented and minoritised groups, to get in touch. Stephen takes student wellbeing and support seriously and will match your commitment with his.

Stephen is teaching the following for 2020-2021 terms:

Term 1

Governing emerging technologies, with Jack Stilgoe (BSc)
Responsible Innovation, with Jack Stilgoe (MSc)
Nanotechnology and Society (PGT)

Term 2

Engaging the Public with Science (BSc)

Engaging the Public with Science, with Simon Lock (MSc)
Responsible Innovation (PGT)

19-SEP-2019 Lecturer (Teaching) Responsible Innovation Science and Technology Studies UCL, United Kingdom
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