Thesis defence: Katie Berns

Thesis defence

Date: Friday 22 September 2023

Time: 13.00 – 17.00

Location: Aula Nod, DSV, Borgarfjordsgatan 12, Kista, and Zoom

Welcome to a thesis defence at DSV! Katie Berns presents her thesis on food waste activism.

On September 22, 2023, Katie Berns will present her PhD thesis at the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences (DSV), Stockholm University. The title of the thesis is “Designing Community Economies: Exploring Alternatives for Infrastructuring Food Waste Activism”.

The defence takes place at DSV in Kista, starting at 13:00 pm.
Find your way to DSV

It is also possible to participate on Zoom.
Contact Katie Berns to get the login

Portrait photo of Katie Berns, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
Katie Berns. Photo: private.

PhD student: Katie Berns, DSV
Opponent: Professor Danielle Wilde, Umeå University
Main supervisor: Chiara Rossitto, DSV
Supervisor: Jakob Tholander, DSV

The thesis can be downloaded from Diva

Contact Katie Berns



By drawing on past CSCW and SHCI scholarship engaged with how technology can support the collaborative work of organising activism and empowering people to respond to diverse sustainability challenges– my research contributes to the emerging field of digital civics by introducing the human geography concept ‘community economies’ as a new way to frame and determine the scope of the design of digital technologies for infrastructuring food waste activism.

Using a combination of ethnographic research and participatory action research (PAR), the empirical data were collected through two long-term collaborations with food-sharing communities in Denmark and Sweden and through a collaboration with researchers on a related project that focused on a food-sharing community in Germany. The findings and contributions of the work include (1) the identification of the key concerns, values, and existing sociotechnical practices involved in establishing and maintaining activist food-sharing communities, (2) insights into and reflections on the design of sociotechnical practices that support food-sharing as a form of community economy, considering challenges such as recognising the variegated capacities of participants and balancing diverse and sometimes conflicting community values, and (3) the determination of how new food-sharing communities scale their impact in different ways such by growing larger, joining forces with other local food initiatives, or proliferating by learning from similar, more established communities in different locations.

The discussion centres around three key dimensions that address the research questions; food-sharing as activism, designing sociotechnical sharing and governance practices, and designing community economies. Within these areas, I discuss the tensions that emerged regarding the role of technology in the three communities and unpack how a combination of existing mainstream technologies and bespoke civic technologies act as an infrastructure for the organisation, enactment, and proliferation of community-led food-sharing initiatives.

Keywords: Digital Civics, Food-Sharing, Activism, Food Waste, Community Economies, PAR