Title page for ETD etd-11142004-122015

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Knefel, Ann Margaret Callender
Author's Email Address acallend@vt.edu
URN etd-11142004-122015
Title Exploring Educational Initiatives in Nanotechnology Networks
Degree PhD
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Fuhrman, Ellsworth R. Committee Chair
Bailey, Carol A. Committee Member
Luke, Timothy W. Committee Member
Ryan, John W. Committee Member
Wimberley, Dale W. Committee Member
  • actor network theory
  • nanoscience
  • nanotechnology
  • conflict
  • collaboration
  • sociology of scientific knowledge
Date of Defense 2004-11-12
Availability unrestricted
Nanotechnology has captured the attention of governments and corporations around the

globe. It has become the subject and context for numerous conferences, media articles,

websites and scientific research papers. Nano enthusiasts and government officials claim

that it is an area that promises new understandings of nature, and use of that

understanding to build technologies that might change our lives. Despite the growing

hype surrounding this new science, what appears to be lacking is scholarly literature that

examines its growth and expansion from a social science perspective. This study

addressed this limitation through a sociological analysis of the network of actors, events,

rhetorical strategies, practices and instrumentation that went into the construction and

growth of nanotechnology. Relying heavily on actor-network theory (ANT), this study

focused on a small part of the total network referred to as the knowledge education

production process, which involved the enrolment of high school teachers into the

nanotechnology network through a series of collaborative workshops -- the

Nanotechnology Curriculum Development Project (NCDP) -- with Virginia Polytechnic

and State University (Virginia Tech) scientists over a period of two years. By

investigating how the nanotechnology network was constructed and maintained, this case

study examined the relevance of ANT as nanotechnology moved beyond the laboratory

into the public domain of high school education. It looked at the intermediary role of

high school science and math teachers and revealed the function of conflict, power,

authority, hierarchy, interests, motivations, gender and race in the construction and

expansion of scientific networks.

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