“Open Labs, Democratizing Value Creation”

Medical Auditorium, Byblos campus

The Institute for Social Justice and Conflict Resolution and the Department of Social Sciences are hosting a seminar on the nexus between digital labs and grassroots empowerment.

Sonja Buxbaum-Conradi and Jan-Hauke Branding from the Helmut-Schmidt-University of Hamburg in Germany will debate the manifold implications that digital fabrication and information technologies have for grassroots and entrepreneurial empowerment.

The present dominating industrial practices have created immense knowledge asymmetries not only between producers and consumers, but also between highly industrialized regions as owners and gatekeepers of technological knowledge and developing regions that usually stand at the bottom of industrial value chains. Thus, knowledge on how to design and manufacture (technological) artifacts is distributed unequally around the world. As a result, there is an enormous potential that remains unexploited until now.

Due to the spread of innovations in digital fabrication and information technologies and an increasing access to them, we can currently observe the emergence of small-scale grassroots innovative activities that cut across different sectors from agriculture to energy, health and education. They build mainly on the idea of open (source) fabrication laboratories (FabLabs) and makerspaces as a nucleus for enhancing and initiating innovation capabilities by providing an easy access to technological knowledge and hardware. They can be considered as workshops that provide a common place for encountering, learning, experimenting, joint creativity and value co-creation bearing the potential to stimulate bottom-up innovation and promote entrepreneurial empowerment on a local level.

Sonja Buxbaum-Conradi studied Cultural and Social Anthropology, Peace and Conflict Studies and French Linguistics at the universities of Marburg and Hamburg specializing in intercultural communication and development cooperation. Since 2012 she is working as a research fellow and PHD candidate in an interdisciplinary research team at the Institute for Production Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies at the Helmut-Schmidt-University. Her research focus is (amongst other things) on the potential of digital fabrication technologies and open fabrication laboratories for socio-economic empowerment and transformation at the grassroots level.

Jan-Hauke Branding studied Political Science, Human Geography, and International Law at the universities of Jena and Hamburg. He got his master’s degree in May of 2016 and has been employed at the Helmut-Schmidt-University since. He works in the AGYA-“Twinning for Innovation” project and focuses on changing patterns in working and production conditions and their influences on society as well as on individuals. 

This event takes place in the framework of Dr. Tamirace Fakhoury’s course on Politics of the Developing Areas (POL 312).

All are welcome to attend.