Prospecting and value-making in the process of innovation

UNIL principal investigator

Prof. Dominique Vinck, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences

UNIPD principal investigator

Prof. Paolo Magaudda, FISPPA


Graduate summer/winter program


How does one draw value from technological innovation? And how does one find and make the value potential of innovation? From biotechnologies to finance, to education, to creative industries, and mobility, this issue of value is a central question for science and technology studies (STS). Although new models of technological innovation from private companies such as Uber, Amazon, or Facebook obviously demand STS scrutiny, value making practices extend beyond strict economic innovation and capital, and often involve larger part of society and social groups. Multiple gains, accumulations, hierarchies, distributions and cycles of credibility are at play in technoscientific practices, making a wide range of value(s) percolate through scientific and technological activities. Most of the time, unseen or neglected processes of value making result of social and cultural knowledge and agency.

This summer school aims to examine the diversity of these value-making processes. More specifically, it will explore how the values – economic, moral, social, epistemic, etc. – of science and technology rest upon, what could be called, a prospecting activity.

The Summer school will question how, across different sectors of practice, scientists, entrepreneurs and investors work towards value-making of innovation. Through different workshops and lectures, participants will be invited to crosslink their respective research fields through the analytical prism of prospecting and value-making. The summer schoolwill involve a series of lectures by keynote speakers, individual and group exercises on the main theme. Each PhD student will also be invited to discuss their research with colleagues in the context of thematic workshops animated by senior colleagues and invited tutors.


The three-day and a half summer school is co-organised by STS Lab (UNIL) and PaSTIS (UNIPD). The main scientific activities will consist in presentations of doctoral research by PhD candidates, and presentations of ongoing or completed research projects conducted at STS Lab Lausanne and PaSTIS by young and senior researchers. The concerns of doctoral students willl be taken into account during the whole Summer school. Key-note speakers will be invited to give a conference and to stay the whole duration of the event in order to provide support to research.

The Summer school will pay a special attention and concrete support to writing a doctoral thesis. It will adress questions like how to limit a fieldwork, how to accomodate fieldwork and theory, how to structure a main argument of a thesis, what parts to begin with writing.

The Summer school has been conceived to keep up to date the members of STS Lab (UNIL) and PaSTIS (UNIPD) with the important new field of valuation studies, including work with digital platforms and services, apps and algorithms, and the role of non-experts and citizens in shaping innovation and new forms of values. The aims of the Summer school is to support the work of the doctoral students of STS Lab (UNIL) and of PaSTIS (UNIPD), to present, discuss, and support ongoing or completed research projects in both universities, and prepare the opportunity for future common research projects. This core objective will be enriched with the participation of colleagues from other locations in Switzerland and internationally.

Potential for follow-up activities

On the basis of the preliminary texts asked to participants, and the discussions, proceedings will be published online on the STS Lab webpages, and some will be selected for a publication in the journal Revue d'anthropologie de connaissance.

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