Maja Van Der Velden
I am the leader of the Regenerative Technologies research group and director of the associated Sustainability Lab. My field of research is Technology and Society, in particular the design and use of digital technologies and infrastructures and the practices and impacts they help shape.
Informed by critical informatics, feminist technoscience (science and technology studies), and socioecological systems thinking, I pursue research topics around sustainability and digitalisation. Just transitions, democratic participation, intersectionality, and cognitive justice are values that guide my research.
These interests and values are also reflected in my teaching, in which I work with a critical constructivist learning methodology, actively involving students in exploring the social and ethical effects of technology design and use. Prior to joining the University of Oslo, I worked for a number of years advising civil society organisations in Africa and the Middle East on the adaptation of information and communications technology, in particular in contexts of economic development and social change.
I have implemented fieldwork in Canada (teenage patients and privacy), Ghana (repair and recycling), India (digitalisation of local health knowledge of traditional healers), Kenya (global knowledge sharing in a Masai community), Netherlands (repair), Norway (repair, sustainable business models, health tech for teenage patients), and the Middle East (gender, human rights). In terms of social sustainability, I have implemented research in the field of privacy, repair, and AI. Research on environmental sustainability includes sustainability analysis of electronic products, repair, and sustainable digitalisation. My research on cultural sustainability focused on Indigenous knowledge and database design.
I am at the moment active in three funded projects:
- Workpackage leader in EMPOWER, a UiO:Energy-financed convergence milieu focusing on the role batteries in the transition towards a sustainable transport future (2022-2026).
- Leader of Circular Energy, a UiO:Energy-financed project, in the form of a thematic research group, focusing on the role of design, maintenance, and repair in energy conservation in digitalisation technologies (2021-2023).
- Deputy leader of Futuring Nordics, a UiO:Nordic-financed project, in the form of a thematic research group, focusing on the transition towards sustainable business models of Nordic companies (2019-2022). My research focus is repair and sustainable business models.
- Sustainable Market Actors for Responsible Trade (SMART), an Horizon2020-financed project, in which we investigated the social and environmental sustainability in the lifecycle of mobile phones and other electronics, looked at resistance to regulation in the global value chains of electronics, and proposed policy reform proposals for products.
- Project leader of Cool Technology for Young People with Longterm Health Challenges (KULU) (article), a Participatiory Design project in which we explored new methods and design with and for young people with health challenges.
Autonomy and Automation in an Information Society for All (final report to funder).
I teach IN5010/IN9010 Design, Technology & Society, a master/PhD course in which we look at different theoretical perspectives on the relations between design, technology, and society. We explore these relations 'hands-on' in discussions, design and deconstruction workshops, visualisations, and written work. Some of the topics we explore are sustainability, autonomous systems, privacy/surveillance, gender, and regenerative technologies. It is a five-week intensive course (90 contact hours). In addition, I give several guest lectures in other IFI courses, focusing on social and ethical aspects of informatics.
PhD candidates (main supervisor):
- Svein Kjøde - Designing transitions towards sustainability with Nordic companies
- Ines Junge - Extending the lifespan of digital artifacts
- Eunji Lee - Making the invisible visible: Understanding complex healthcare service processes
- Margaret Machnia Sommervold - In Illness and in Health - A critical inquiry of the potential of digital health technology for supporting youth in health care transitions
PhD candidates (co-supervisor):
- Christian Medaas - Repair of mobile phones (Dept. of Social Anthropology)
- Swati Sristava - Design for sustainable consumption
- Jorun Børsting - Participatory design with young people with ME
- Stian Jessen - Design and utilization of Gameful Designs in Mobile Interventions for Patients With Chronic Illnesses (Oslo University Hospital)
- Sumit Pandey - “Designing Smart Things”
- Suhas Govind Joshi - Designing for capabilities. A phenomenological approach to the design of enabling technologies for older adults
- Tigist Fetene Adane - Life cycle assessment of digital technologies for energy conservation
Thirty-three of my master students have successfully finished their master exam. I am currently the supervisor of the following master students:
- Lara Okafor - Queer, Trans, Intersex, Black, Indigenous People of Color (QTIBIPoC+) Communities and Digital security
- Johannes Flatland Skjeie - Visualisation of energy consumption
- Frida Hope Carpenter - Visualisation of energy consumption
- Aslak Burheim Sommervold - Visualisation of energy consumption
Other positions (past en present)
- Member of the PhD Committee of the Department of Informatics, University of Oslo (since 2014)
- Member Sustainable Market Actors Network
- Member Daughters of Themis
- Member of The National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology (NENT) (2014-2017)
- Founding board member Restarters Norway, a community repair organisation (2016 - 2018)
van der Velden, Maja (2020). Apple uses trademark law to strengthen its monopoly on repair. repair.eu.
van der Velden, Maja (2019). March 8 – Women’s Health, Decent Work and the Electronics Industry . Blogging for Sustainability.
Maitre-Ekern, Eléonore; Taylor, Mark Beaumont & van der Velden, Maja (2020). Towards a Sustainable Circular Economy: SMART Reform Proposals. University of Oslo. Show summary