Damian White

Professor
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BA, Keele University
MS, Birbeck College
PHD, University of Essex

Damian White is a sociologist and political theorist with current teaching and research interests in the sociology and political economy of post-carbon transitions, urban political ecology, environmental-labor studies, critical theory/critical geography and the sociology/political theory of design/architecture and planning. White has published four books to date: Bookchin-A Critical Appraisal (Pluto Press, UK/University of Michigan Press USA, 2008); Technonatures: Environments, Technologies, Spaces and Places in the Twenty-First Century (Wilfred Laurier Press, 2009); Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader (AK Press, 2011) with Chris Wilbert; and Environments, Nature and Social Theory: Hybrid Approaches (Palgrave Macmillian, 2015) with Alan Rudy and Brian Gareau. He is presently working on a book project entitled Imagining Just Transitions: Design Politics, Labor and Post Carbon Futures, which is under contract with Bloomsbury. He has been on the editorial board of Design Philosophy Papers and Capitalism, Nature, Socialism and has been a guest editor of Science as Culture and InTAR:Journal of Adaptive Reuse. 

White completed postdoctoral research at University of East London, and after this held academic positions at Goldsmiths College, University of London and James Madison University in Virginia. At RISD, White was head of the History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences department (2012–16) and dean of Liberal Arts (2017–22). Prior to academia, White worked in the financial services industry in London for a number of years and taught “A level” political science and sociology to 16-to-18-year-old students. He was awarded the Edna Schaffer Humanist Award in 2008 and the John R. Frazier Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012.

Academic areas of interest

  • The sociology/political economy/critical geography/political ecology of climate change and energy transition
  • Critical urban studies, particularly related to labor, climate, ecology, green/ecological urbanism
  • Critical social and political theory
  • Environmental history 
  • The history/sociology/politics of green/sustainable/eco/radical/critical design
  • Critical design studies, public space, work and democracy
  • Theories of the state and modernization; ecological modernization and its critics
  • Futures, futurology and futurism; urban utopianism; socialist, anarchist, antiracist, feminist/queer ecological utopias; science fiction and political theory   

Courses

Fall 2024 Courses

HPSS S731-02 - SOCIOLOGY & POLICITAL ECONOMY OF DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE
Level Undergraduate
Unit History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences
Subject History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences
Period Fall 2024
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start date
End date

HPSS S731-02

SOCIOLOGY & POLICITAL ECONOMY OF DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE

Level Undergraduate
Unit History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences
Subject History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences
Period Fall 2024
Credits 3
Format Lecture
Mode In-Person
Start and End 2024-09-04 to 2024-12-11
Times: MW | 9:40 AM - 11:10 AM Instructor(s): Damian White Location(s): College Building, Room 412 Enrolled / Capacity: 25 Status: Closed

SECTION DESCRIPTION

Designers and architects are constantly making objects, systems, services, infrastructures but they are also involved in dream making, desire shaping and negotiating power relations. The aim of this class is to introduce students in an accessible way to the wide-ranging insights that a sociology of design and architecture offers for understanding and evaluating the contours of our current designed economies and possible future designed worlds. We will explore design and architecture as forms of classed, raced and gendered labor and look at the tensions that have long existed between professional designers and publics. We will consider the ways in which the mainstream design industry is shaped by and a shaper of politics and culture and consider how it is embedded within and maintains markets, fossil capitalism, consumer culture and colonialism. We will appraise what sociologists and design theorists have to say about possible future design economies and societies based on digital surveillance, automation/robotics, and bio/geo-engineering. Finally, we will critically examine at a range of critical design social movements: from design justice to decolonial designers, feminist designers to designs for decarbonization and sustainable transitions which argue more just and ecological design worlds are still possible. 

Elective

HPSS S702-02 - INVENTIVE POLITICAL ECOLOGIES
Level Graduate
Unit Liberal Arts; History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences
Subject History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences
Period Fall 2024
Credits 3
Format Seminar
Mode In-Person
Start date
End date

HPSS S702-02

INVENTIVE POLITICAL ECOLOGIES

Level Graduate
Unit Liberal Arts; History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences
Subject History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences
Period Fall 2024
Credits 3
Format Seminar
Mode In-Person
Start and End 2024-09-04 to 2024-12-11
Times: W | 1:10 PM - 6:10 PM Instructor(s): Damian White Location(s): College Building, Room 410 Enrolled / Capacity: 15 Status: Open

SECTION DESCRIPTION

This course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of Inventive Political Ecologies. This course will critically interrogate the many different proposals for inventive political ecologies that have emerged out of the critical social sciences, technology and engineering studies and the broad fields of design, planning and architecture. We will collectively discuss and debate what these inventive political ecologies might offer for addressing and acting on the environmental and climate crisis. We will consider ways in which discussion of “invention” and “innovation” can both open up and sometimes narrow eco-political and environmental discussions. Finally, we will continually consider which inventive political ecologies might help us move towards designing and building more just post-carbon futures.  

Elective

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BA, Keele University
MS, Birbeck College
PHD, University of Essex