Maja Van Der Velden
I am the leader of the Sustainability & Design research group and research lead of the associated Sustainability & Design Lab. My research is focused on the design of emerging digital technologies and the practices and impacts they help shape. Informed by Anthropology of technology, Feminist technoscience, and Critical systems thinking, I pursue research topics such as sustainable AI, repair and recycling, circular energy, and regulation through design. Planetary boundaries, democratic participation, intersectionality, and cognitive justice guide my research approach.
These approaches and interests 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 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 (health tech for teenage patients, sustainable business models), and the Middle East (gender, human rights). In terms of research leadership at the University of Oslo, I am at the moment active as:
- Deputy leader of Futuring Nordics, a UiO:Nordic-financed project, focusing on the transition towards sustainable business models of Nordic companies (2019-2022). My research focus is repair and sustainable business models.
- Leader of Circular Energy, a UiO:Energy-financed project, focusing on the role of digital product design, maintenance, and repair in energy conservation (2021-2023)
- Work package leader in 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 the resistance to regulation in the global value chains of electronics, and proposed policy reform proposals for products. I implemented research in Norway, Ghana, and the Netherlands.
- 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.
Work package leader Autonomy and Automation in an Information Society for All (final report to funder). The project had two main objectives: 1) to contribute to new understandings of how digital automation processes in the public sector interact with the autonomy needs of the users of these services and the effects of these interactions on the inclusive information society; and 2) to develop new designs for public sector services that support flexible configurations of digital automation and human autonomy.
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 repair. 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.
I am supervising PhD candidates and master students on a variety of topics:
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):
- 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
- Sumit Pandey - “Designing Smart Things”
- Suhas Govind Joshi - Designing for capabilities. A phenomenological approach to the design of enabling technologies for older adults
Twenty-seven of my master students have successfully finished their master exam. I am currently the supervisor of the following master students (2019-2021), who are all working in social and/or ecological sustainability-related topics:
- Lara Okafor - QTIBIPoC and Digital security
- Cathrine Bui - Gender bias and AI
- Anne Sofie Gjøby - Sustainable consumption
- Jakob Kongsrud - Sustainable consumption
- Maren Søby Fosser - Seamless design*
- Suresh Sapkota - Repair*
- Siv Årsand - Sustainable materials*
* in cooperation with the Sciene Library and the new Life Sciences building project
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)
- Kjøde, Svein Gunnar; Van Der Velden, Maja & Motevallian, Mahsa (2021). Sustainability Concepts in Nordic Business Research: A Critical Perspective. Sustainability. ISSN 2071-1050. 13(9) . doi: 10.3390/su13095160
- Van Der Velden, Maja (2021). ‘Fixing the World One Thing at a Time’: Community repair and a sustainable circular economy. Journal of Cleaner Production. ISSN 0959-6526. 304 . doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.127151 Show summary
- van der Velden, Maja (2021). ‘I felt a new connection between my fingers and brain’: a thematic analysis of student reflections on the use of pen and paper during lectures. Teaching in Higher Education. ISSN 1356-2517. . doi: 10.1080/13562517.2020.1863347 Full text in Research Archive. Show summary
- Van Der Velden, Maja; Gjelsten, Børge Kile & Jensen, Siri Annethe Moe (2021). Sustainability Competence in Computer Science Education. Nordic Journal of STEM Education. ISSN 2535-4574. 5(1) . doi: 10.5324/njsteme.v5i1.3953 Show summary
- Oteng-Ababio, Martin & van der Velden, Maja (2020). Connectivity in Chaotic Urban Spaces: Mapping Informal Mobile Phone Market Clusters in Accra, Ghana. Journal of Asian and African Studies. ISSN 0021-9096. . doi: 10.1177/0021909620960147 Show summary
- Oteng-Ababio, Martin; van der Velden, Maja & Taylor, Mark Beaumont (2020). Building Policy Coherence for Sound Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Management in a Developing Country. The Journal of environment & development. ISSN 1070-4965. 29 . doi: 10.1177/1070496519898218 Show summary
- Maitre-Ekern, Eléonore; Taylor, Mark Beaumont & van der Velden, Maja (2020). Towards a Sustainable Circular Economy: SMART Reform Proposals. Show summary
- van der Velden, Maja (2020). Apple uses trademark law to strengthen its monopoly on repair. repair.eu. . doi: https://repair.eu/news/apple-uses-trademark-law-to-strengthen-its-monopoly-on-repair/
- Oteng-Ababio, Martin & van der Velden, Maja (2019). “Welcome to Sodom” – Six myths about electronic waste in Agbogbloshie, Ghana. Standplaats Wereld.
- Oteng-Ababio, Martin & van der Velden, Maja (2019). 'Welcome to Sodom' - Six myths about electronic waste in Agbogbloshie, Ghana. Blogging for Sustainability.