EnviroThursday - "Engineering 'Conscious Capitalism': Exploring the Environmental Ethics of Engineers in the Extractive Industries"

12:00 PM  - 1:00 PM
Thursday Mar 1, 2018
Olin-Rice Science Center 250

Speaker:  Dr. Jessica Smith '03, Assoc. Professor, Colorado School of Mines

Mining, oil and gas companies make good villains, frequently figuring as the Goliaths of globalization to the Davids of the environmental and grassroots community movements seeking to stop them. Yet companies are not monoliths, and cases of mineral development are rarely black-and-white. This talk opens up the black box of corporations to explore how engineers practicing in the mining and petroleum industries understand the social and environmental responsibility dimensions of their work. Engineers are the ones responsible for designing the infrastructures, processes, and artifacts that form the basis for prominent controversies over air, water and soil contamination, yet scholars tend to treat them as corporate automatons – as “people without culture” – rather than as actors in their own right. In this talk, Jessica Smith will draw on three years of interviews with engineers and over ten years of ethnographic research on mining to explain the environmental ethics of the engineers she came to know and how they imagined their work to contribute to more responsible resource extraction.

Jessica M. Smith is an anthropologist who studies the mining and oil and gas industries, with a focus on corporate social responsibility, engineering, labor, and gender. She teaches and conducts interdisciplinary research with engineers and applied scientists. She is the author of Mining Coal and Undermining Gender: Rhythms of Work and Family in the American West (Rutgers University Press, 2014), which was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation. She co-organized the 2016 Energy Ethics: Fragile Lives and Imagined Futures conference at the University of St. Andrews and the 2017 STS Underground conference at Mines. She graduated from Macalester in 2003 with majors in Anthropology, International Studies and Latin American Studies and with minors in Spanish and Women’s and Gender Studies.

Refreshments provided.

Contact: Ann Esson,

This event is for: Alumni, Students, Staff, Faculty, Parents and Families and Public

Sponsored By: Environmental Studies

Categories: Front Page Events, Lectures and Speakers and Campus Events