Sunset Celebration

CNS News
CNS News

With the collaborators from around the world visiting Santa Barbara earlier this month for research group meetings, CNS UCSB took the opportunity to celebrate its accomplishments before its closure at the end of August. Researchers, staff, current and former students, and UCSB administrators—including Chancellor Henry Yang—converged at the Wine Cask tasting room in order to acknowledge a decade’s worth of cutting edge interdisciplinary research on the societal and ethical implications of new technologies.

Funded on a 10-year cycle by the National Science Foundations, CNS UCSB and its sister center at Arizona State University were the first national centers designed to address the societal dimensions of technological innovation. They were created specifically to fulfill a mandate included in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a bill passed by Congress in 2000 to support research in nanoscale science and engineering. Supporting the “responsible development of technology” (http://www.nano.gov/goalfourobjectives) was one of the NNI’s four objectives.

In order to achieve this goal, CNS UCSB enlisted scholars from across the social sciences, humanities, and science and engineering disciplines to address issues of equity, global distribution of technological benefits and risks, and possibilities for social and environmental sustainability of new technologies. In addition to producing original research, CNS engaged with the broader public via outreach activities and trained students from the undergraduate to postdoctoral levels.

The public investment in CNS UCSB has merited hundreds of publications and presentations; novel methodologies; new networks of researchers, more well-rounded scholars; and stronger relationships between social scientists, technologists, policymakers, NGOs, and the broader public. Although CNS UCSB will soon no longer exist, its impressive accomplishments will endure, continuing to shape both academic research and technological innovation.