Metall. Res. Technol.
Volume 112, Number 5, 2015
|Number of page(s)||14|
|Published online||14 September 2015|
Society and materials, a series of regular seminars based on a dialog between soft and hard sciences
ESTEP, Bruxelles, Belgique
2 Laboratory of Citizenship Sciences, Rome, Italia
3 Université de Liège, Liège, Belgique
4 IRT-M2P, Metz, France
5 ArcelorMittal, Metz, France
Received: 29 May 2015
Accepted: 24 June 2015
An informal community has regularly organized annual conferences in Europe since 2007, on the connection between core commodities like materials and society and societal challenges: they are called SAM (Society and Materials). The approach is trans- and multi-disciplinary. Thus, sociologists, historians, architects, political scientists and policy makers, engineers, material scientists, life cycle community experts, business people and philosophers come together each year in cohorts of about 100 people from Europe, but also Asia, America and Africa, to give 30 to 40 presentations. They are made available on the SOVAMAT website (www.sovamat.org) and are published in journals like Revue de Métallurgie, Metallurgical Research & Technology and Matériaux et Techniques. Many kinds of materials are regularly discussed. Until today, the conferences have produced about 350 communications, many of which have been translated into peer-reviewed papers. These series of conferences were launched in order to address the complexity of technology evolution in the context of societal challenges. The intuition was that purely mono-disciplinary approaches would not be sufficient to address the future and that holistic methods like Life Cycle Analysis were still too narrowly focused to lead seamlessly to what was needed. Inviting separate communities to participate turned out to be quite popular and people have been coming back regularly and have attracted new players. The outcome is a mixture of disciplines speaking together, but also of practical proposals alongside methodological, meta- or ontological ones. With the hindsight of 10 years of practical experience, it is clear that the scientific agenda in terms of methodology, which was set at the beginning of the adventure, has been achieved. The paths followed were somewhat different, more empirical and more imaginative, than the initial vision of the organizers: a cluster of approaches was explored, which turned out to be richer than an improved version of LCA and MFA. Moreover, new issues have been raised, which make it likely that the initiative will continue indefinitely. This experience can probably help others find their way forward.
Key words: Environment / sustainability / life cycle analysis / sociology / MFA
Appendix is only available in electronic form at www.metallurgical-research.org
© EDP Sciences 2015
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