Please consider submitting your articles to the Engineering studies call for Papers attached, Special Issue on "New engineering actors and practices in agriculture ». Please circulate in your networks and to potential authors.
Frédéric Goulet & Dominique Vinck
Engineering Studies is an interdisciplinary journal devoted to the scholarly study of
engineers and engineering. It advances analysis (historical, social, cultural, political,
philosophical, and organizational) which enhances critical understanding of engineering
education, research, practice, policy, and representation.
Engineering Studies involves critical investigation in the practices under study (work, design,
formation, or service to society); it does not publish papers that seek only to improve the
effectiveness of engineering. Prospective authors are invited to reflect on and anticipate how
their work might prove helpful to the academy and beyond.
Engineering Studies warmly welcome prospective authors to submit their contributions to a
special issue dedicated to New engineering actors and practices in agriculture. The study of
engineers and engineering generally focuses on product design, infrastructure (transport,
water, energy, telecommunication), and particular industries such as aerospace, energy, and
computing – but rarely agriculture, except in field-specific journals. However, engineers and
engineering are deeply engaged with agriculture, food and rural communities. This special
issue seeks to shed some light on engineers involved in agriculture: who they are, what are
their relations to other actors, and what are their practices.
Agriculture is facing new problems and societal issues, such as health preoccupations,
global food security, climate change, degradation of farmland, stresses in the use of resources,
consumption pattern changes, animal welfare, etc. In this context, agricultural engineering is
changing in many directions, especially in terms of design, production, and maintenance of
new technologies, such as: smart farming and precision agriculture that involve new hardware
(e.g. drones, robots, sensors, etc.), software (e.g. georectification, optimization of inputs
aplications and irrigation, blockchains), systems (e.g. tracking systems, Internet of things),
artificial intelligence, data bases, and data analytics. Crops and animals themselves are
changing with genetically modifyed organisms and gene editing, microalgae feedstocks, new
inputs and new production methods (e.g. hydroponics, vertical or urban farming,
agroecological practices, seawater farming, etc.). Harvesting, storage, and transformation
also face new challenges and technology with biomaterials (e.g. bioplastics), cultured meats,
and bioenergy production. Social innovations also involve new engineering practices, such as
crowd farming or reorganisation of markets and distribution at local levels.
The work and organizations within which engineering activities take place range from
the technical management of plants and animals in situated fields and farms, to the
management of large tangible or intangible infrastructures (irrigated perimeters, online
databases or globalized value chains). Engineering education is consequently often
considered as an essential lever for changing agricultural production methods and for meeting
the major challenges facing agriculture. Trained at universities, or in engineering schools
backed by agricultural research laboratories, they are called upon to occupy very diverse jobs,
after having been confronted with constantly evolving knowledge and research fronts. The
nature of their activities has itself changed considerably as a result of the major
transformations that have affected the relationship between agriculture and society, in
particular in industrialized and emerging countries. But at the same time, and particularly in
the Global South, farmers’ access to engineers and technologies is still a scarce resource, a
situation in which specific modes of innovation are developing, based on the use of local
resources and on appropriate processes. Thus, many questions and controversies arise
regarding the role of Western engineering and its articulation with local knowledge systems,
particularly in the Global South, and the management of material and product flows on a local
and global scale.
This diversity and density of issues makes the study of engineering in agriculture
particularly promising for the understanding of engineering and engineers. It also provides an
opportunity to an original contribution to the field of rural sociology and STS applied to the
agricultural sector, the latter having so far done little to explore the role of engineers and
The editors of this special issue of Engineering Studies seek papers that examine the
intersection of engineering with agriculture, the food supply, and related societal issues. The
proposals could engage critical understanding of what is or was going on with agricultural
engineering and its history, new engineering practices with a specific interest for digital
agriculture and other emerging technologies, and new challenges for engineering raised by
the problems of rural communities and food production and distribution.
Interested authors should contact the guest editors. Papers to be submitted before Dec 2019.
Instructions for authors