Space Enabled Presents at AIAA ASCEND Summit




September 17, 2020
10:45am — 11:55am ET

Professor Danielle Wood, Dr. Katlyn Turner, and David Colby Reed will be presenting on "Designing for Sustainability on Earth and in Space" at the AIAA ASCEND Summit on Thursday, September 17. Learn more about the Space Enabled Session here: https://www.ascend.events/timetable/event/space-sustainability/.  AIAA is hosting this  event as part of the ASCEND series in preparation for the main ASCEND event November 16-18, 2020.

Watch the video.

Session Abstract: 

This session draws from Systems Thinking to ask long term questions about the responsibilities that humans face to create sustainable, equitable communities both on Earth and wherever we operate in space. The concepts are drawn directly from the research portfolio of the Space Enabled research group at the MIT Media Lab which pursues a mission to advance justice in Earth’s complex systems using designs enabled by space. In pursuit of this mission, Space Enabled works to support sustainability both on earth and in space. The work of Space Enabled includes projects within in three themes:

  1. Using space technology to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  2. Designing systems to make space more sustainable and accessible
  3. Exploring the links between technology and justice using social science research

The presentation will give examples of projects within these three themes such as work led by Dr. Turner to develop theory and methods to apply Antiracism during the design of complex systems such as space missions and nuclear energy facilities. Other examples come from the work of Mr. Reed who is drawing concepts from philosophy, law and political science to propose approaches for designing democratic processes for future human communities in space. Prof Wood will share work to design systems with leaders from African and South America that use satellite earth observation to inform local policies for public safety, health and environmental management. In each of these examples, Space Enabled aims to understand how complex technology systems influence the outcomes for groups that have traditionally experience discrimination based on race, gender, sexual identity, class, language and national heritage. 

The discussion will argue that the space community, especially those pursuing human presence beyond Earth, needs a clear vision for sustainable communities. Sustainability is defined with inspiration from the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to include aspects of environmental flourishing, economic well being and social justice or equity across different human groups. The talk will explore how humans need to overcome major challenges to achieve sustainability on earth, by mitigating climate change, addressing vast global wealth inequality, and working toward social justice and equity for historically mistreated people groups. We also explore how future human presence on the Moon and Mars creates an inspiring opportunity for creative design. On the Moon or Mars, we have the chance to create modes of living as humans that are sustainable from the beginning, by respecting the Martian environment, creating equitable communities and explore modes of economic exchange that protect the environment and humans. The conversation invites us to innovate in our plans for living in space and inspire new ways to live on Earth. We further explore the key ideas from systems engineering, philosophy, law and social science that can give us clues to how we can create a sustainable and equitable society in Space and on Earth. The talk shows how research projects by Space Enabled that provide concrete examples of these topics.

Speaker Biographies:

Professor Danielle Wood serves as an Assistant Professor in Media Arts & Sciences and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Within the MIT Media Lab, Prof. Wood is the Founding Director of the Space Enabled research group. Prof. Wood is a scholar of societal development with a background that includes satellite design, earth science applications, systems engineering, and technology policy. In her research, Prof. Wood applies these skills to design innovative systems that harness space technology to address development challenges around the world and contribute to the long-term sustainability of outer space. Prior to serving as faculty at MIT, Professor Wood held positions at NASA Headquarters, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Aerospace Corporation, Johns Hopkins University, and the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs. Prof. Wood studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned a PhD in engineering systems, SM in aeronautics and astronautics, SM in technology policy, and SB in aerospace engineering.

Dr. Katlyn Turner is a Research Scientist within the Space Enabled research group at the MIT Media Lab and a Fellow of the “Research to Policy Engagement” Initiative of the MIT Technology Policy Program. In these roles, her primary research includes work on inclusive innovation practices, and on principles of anti-racist technology design. She additionally mentors students, works on proposal writing efforts, and helps to communicate the team's work. Dr. Turner earned her PhD in Geological Sciences from Stanford University, where she researched novel nuclear waste forms. From 2017-2019, Katlyn was a postdoctoral fellow at the Project on Managing the Atom & the International Security Program at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, where she researched environmental and socio-political impacts of nuclear energy. Dr. Turner additionally holds an M.S. in Earth & Environmental Sciences from the University of Michigan, and a B.S. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Turner is passionate about issues of diversity, justice, inclusion, and accessibility within society-- particularly in higher education and within STEM employment sectors.

David Colby Reed

serves as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Space Enabled research group at the MIT Media Lab. He works to build equity into the architectures of sociotechnical systems drawing from his skills as a systems designer, educator, and technologist. David is pursuing a doctoral degree at the Media Lab with research focusing on designing participation, voice, and equity into the architectures of complex systems including the future communities that humans will create beyond Earth. The Big Idea is to design systems that create patterns of social relations that are compatible with democratic processes. Prior to coming to MIT, David co-founded, with Lee-Sean Huang, Foossa, a service design and strategy consulting practice based in NYC. Via Foossa, David worked to design public services for the City of New York, storytelling experiences for the Kigali Genocide Memorial, technology tools for multilateral organizations, and financial instruments to advance economic security, among other projects. David is a past Fellow of the Assembly program at the Berkman-Klein Center at Harvard and the MIT Media Lab, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), and a former trustee of the NYC chapter of the Awesome Foundation. David studied cognitive science at Harvard, public policy and economics at NYU.


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