Skip to content

14 May 2013 Update: Thanks for Participating

STS Forum on the 2011 Fukushima / East Japan Disaster

Building a Transnational Research Agenda and Strategy for Engagement through a Social Scientific Understanding of Disasters and the Disaster Sciences

University of California Berkeley
11-14 May 2013


Through the support of the US National Science Foundation and generous contributions of the private Support Group for the STS Forum, we are holding the inaugural meeting of the “STS Forum on the 2011 Fukushima/East Japan Disaster,” as hosted by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society (CSTMS). This is an academic forum for discussing the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear accident and the larger 2011 East Japan disaster. The goal of this forum is to build a transnational research agenda and community centered on this disaster, and to extend the social scientific and humanistic understanding of disasters and the disaster sciences. For the inaugural meeting, we also invited scholars studying other disasters.

While this was a pre-circulated papers workshop, with participants selected based on abstracts received, we also extended an opportunity to all viewers to read and comment on the publicly posted manuscripts. Please view all manuscripts and comments via the link provided above.

Second 3.11 Virtual Conference

Based on our very successful event last year, the STS Forum on the 2011 Fukushima/East Japan Disaster and Teach 3.11 has organized another co-sponsored, online virtual conference to be held on the second memorial anniversary of the disaster.

 STS Forum on the 2011 Fukushima/East Japan Disaster & Teach 3.11
3.11 Virtual Conference: Building a Bridge to Disaster Studies
An online pre-circulated papers workshop, with scheduled open comment period
11-14 March 2013
All participants welcome!

At 8:00 a.m. JST, March 11th (7:00 p.m., March 10 EDT) we opened the conference by posting a collection of essays that we sincerely hope you will find interesting and provocative for discussion. Please follow this link to read the essays, and to contribute your own comments and introduction to your own work.

In the two years since the disaster, the scholarship on the disaster has continued to mature. While continue to welcome, and will be presenting new empirical material, we have also invited essays that help build a bridge between our understanding of the East Japan Disaster and the broader, emerging field of Disaster Studies.

The List of papers posted at the site ar as follows:

  • Cecilia Ioana Manoliu (University of Tsukuba) on recovery and resilience after the 3.11 earthquake
  • Marja Ylönen (University of Jyväskylä) on signaled and silenced aspects of nuclear regulation
  • Markku Lehtonen (University of Sussex) on a comparative study of reactions to Fukushima
  • Tino Bruno (Univ. Jean Moulin) on US and French advocacy of civilian nuclear power
  • Charlotte Cabasse (University of California, Berkeley) on the mapping and making of risk
  • David Novak (UC Santa Barbara) on performing antinuclear movements on post-3.11 Japan
  • Chika Watanabe (Cornell University) on the ambiguity of lessons in post-disaster recovery
  • Xiaomin Zhu (Peking University) on science communication for science literacy
  • Yuko Kobayashi (Anti-nuclear activist) on the Environmental Radioactivty Monitoring Project in the vicinity of Fukushima Dai-ichi
  • Yuji Miyake (professional engineer) on radiation dispersion
  • Atsushi Akera (Rensselaer) and on synopses of the 2012 SHOT Workshop and 4S annual meeting

In addition to providing an opportunity for everyone to comment on these essays, we will be encouraging everyone to post their own thoughts and introduce their own work through the Fukushima Forum Google Groups site (the Forum will be made open for the duration of the Virtual Conference).

Our hope is that the virtual conference will continue to provide people with an opportunity to mark anniversary of the March 11, 2011 disasters with a time of reflection, scholarly inquiry, and open conversation.  Please join us for this conversation.


Atsushi Akera (Rensselaer)
Principal organizer, STS Forum on the 2011 Fukushima/East Japan Disaster

Lisa Onaga (Nanyang Technological University)
Managing Editor, Teach 3.11

STS Forum on the 2011 Fukushima / East Japan Disaster

Building a Transnational Research Agenda and Strategy for Engagement through a Social Scientific Understanding of Disasters and the Disaster Sciences

University of California Berkeley
12-14 May 2013

Through the generous support of the US National Science Foundation, we will be holding the inaugural meeting of the “STS Forum on the 2011 Fukushima/East Japan Disaster,” as hosted by the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society at the University of California Berkeley. This is to be an academic forum for discussing the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear accident and the larger 2011 East Japan disaster. The goal of this forum is to build a transnational research agenda and community centered on this disaster, and to extend the social scientific and humanistic understanding of disasters and the disaster sciences. For this inaugural meeting, we will also be invitnig scholars studying other disasters (Chernobyl, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, 9/11, Deepwater Horizon, as well as less well-known disaster), especially those who are interested in understanding disasters and the events in Japan in historical and comparative perspective.

See the full Call for Papers at the Workshops page of this site.

Virtual Conference – Historical and Contemporary Studies of Disasters – 18-23 September 2012



18-23 September 2012

For the workshop

Historical and Contemporary Studies of Disasters:
Placing Chernobyl, 9/11, Katrina, Deepwater Horizon, Fukushima and Other Events in Historical and Comparative Perspective

SHOT 2012 Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School, Sunday, 7 October 2012
Co-Sponsored by the SHOT Prometheans (Engineering) SIG, SHOT Asia Network, and Teach 3.11

Preliminary program posted here
Follow this link to view and comment on the manuscripts


So we would like to announce another “Virtual Conference,” modeled after the 3.11 Virtual Conference that was held last Spring. This virtual conference is based on providing a public comment/discussion period for the pre-circulated papers associated with the co-sponsored workshop listed above. The manuscripts have already been posted online, and are already open to public comment, but we would like to encourage everyone, including the authors, to comment on the manuscripts during the announced open comment period (18-23 September 2012) so that everyone benefits from a more “live” exchange.

For registered workshop participants, this discussion will then continue in Copenhagen as we bring together and analyze the various insights, arguments, and evidence presented in both the papers and online comments.

Please join us during the stated comment period for this discussion!

– Atsushi
On behalf of the entire program committee

NSF Award for the STS Forum on Fukushima

Hi Everyone,

So we have good news to report. We were awarded the NSF proposal to convene the first full meeting of the Fukushima Forum. Cathryn Carson (UC Berkeley), Kim Fortun (Rensselaer), and myself are the principal investigators for this grant, and we will be moving soon to draft a call for papers for this event. While details are still to be worked out, we hope to provide free housing and some travel subsidies for the event. Attendance will be limited to around 30 people, with a program committee in charge of screening applications. As with all Fukushima Forum event, we hope to draw in a diverse community of scholars of all ranks, including graduate students. Given the subject matter, we hope that around half of the attendees will be folks from Japan, or those doing direct fieldwork in Japan.

You can view our NSF proposal via this link. Again, the overall idea of the STS Forum on Fukushima is to create an interdisciplinary, transnational research community surrounding the Fukushima nuclear accident and the integrally related disasters stemming from the East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

Meanwhile in the coming month, two separate groups of scholars will be gathering in Copenhagen, one a workshop on “Historical and Contemporary Studies of Disasters,” co-sponsored by the Prometheans/Asia Network/Teach 3.11as part of the SHOT Annual Meeting (October 4-7), and the other a series of four sessions (plus hopefully a separate reception) at the 4S Annual Meeting (October 17-20). You can find a preliminary program for both events listed under Conferences at this website.

We are also about to open a “Virtual Conference,” similar to the 3.11 Virtual Conference we held back in March. This is the other major announcement. Please see the above note for details.

– Atsushi

3.11 Virtual Conference–Thanks for Participating!!

Dear Colleagues:

A sincere note of thanks for your interest and participation in our 3.11 Virtual Conference.

I am very pleased to report that over the period March 10-12 the site registered more than 2,500 page views; among these more than 1/3 came from Japan, a bit less than half came from the United States, and the remainder were drawn from the U.K., India, Israel, France, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Indonesia, Australia, Taiwan, Germany, and Singapore.  I think it’s fair to say this was an international conference!

Additionally, membership in the Fukushima Forum more than doubled over the duration of the conference.  If you have not yet joined this group, please consider doing so, and keep up with our plans for future exchanges of ideas, publications, and physical conference meetings.  More here:

I hope you found the essays and the comments useful tools towards a deeper understanding of the analytical challenges ahead as STS scholars work to make sense of, and teach about the 3.11 disasters.  Speaking for myself, I found the exchange of ideas led me into areas (food safety, DIY Geiger counter communities, for example) that I would not have known about otherwise.  As an author it was very useful to have the perspectives of my peers.  I hope that in some perhaps small way this virtual gathering has channeled the collective energies of its participants into work that will factor into the prevention of future Fukushimas, and that further exposes the ongoing struggles of Japanese disaster victims.  Academics have a responsibility to take on these issues, issues that are fundamentally about democracy, poverty, human rights, and the ever-expanding need to keep a critical eye on the dangers of science+technology in the modern world.  Disasters reflect our values–they happen by design, but not one generally made by those who suffer the most.

I think that the melding of Japanese-STS scholarship with disaster-STS work was productive, forced many of us to stretch intellectually (speaking for myself, anyway), and shows one way forward for the utility of comparative disaster-STS research and collaboration.  In that spirit I wish to applaud Scott Frickel and Kim Fortun’s “Case for Disaster Science and Technology Studies.”  I know many of us are convinced by their “case,” and wish to be on hand as it goes ahead.

I also hope that many of these essays and comments will be translated into Japanese.  IF you can help with this, please be in touch with me as soon possible.

Some additional thanks: this idea originated among the planning group of the Fukushima Forum early in 2012.  Knowing that we would not be able to convene a physical meeting of scholars until later this year, we did not want the one-year anniversary of 3.11 to pass without an intense exchange of research, ideas, and perspectives.  Thus was born the “Virtual Conference” concept.  I wish to thank my co-coordinators Atsushi Akera and Lisa Onaga for their goodwill and hard work on this project, as well as our team of moderators, including Atsushi and Lisa, Kristina Buhrman, and Tyson Vaughan.

PLEASE NOTE that the essays will remain up and the comments sections open for the next month.  So, if you enjoyed what you saw here please spread the word, use the site in your classes and public events, pass along the essays to interested colleagues, join the Fukushima Forum, and collaborate with Teach 3.11.


Scott Gabriel Knowles
Chair, 3.11 Virtual Conference

12 March 2012

sgk23 ‘at’

3.11 Virtual Conference: Looking back to look forward

 11-12 March 2012 Begins 11 March, 8:00 a.m., Japan Standard Time (6:00 p.m., March 10, EST)

The actively moderated period for the Virtual Conference has now ended. However, we encourage everyone to continue the conversation both by viewing the Featured Essays on the ONLINE FORUM and by posting your responses. (The site will remain open for comments for at least the next 30 days.)

On the one-year anniversary of the triple disasters that devastated eastern Japan we welcome you to participate in an interdisciplinary online conversation, taking place 11-12 March 2012.  The event will commemorate and discuss major issues and concerns raised – and still unsettled – related to the confluence of last year’s earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters.

Scholars from multiple disciplines, especially in the fields of history of science and technology and science studies, will lead an online discussion about this moment of rupture in history in a “virtual conference” co-sponsored by the Fukushima Forum and Teach 3.11. Taking this time to reflect deliberately on the harrowing tragedies of 3.11 and the ongoing recovery processes in and surrounding the Tohoku region of Japan, this meeting provides a forum for colleagues to show solidarity and exchange ideas, questions, and concerns related to issues that seem to have no immediate closure. Looking at the past to think about the future, this online conversation aims to facilitate thoughtful discussion about the triple disasters. In addition, it provides a space in which to consider how our multidisciplinary experiences in the historical, anthropological, and social studies of science, technology, environment, and medicine continue to inform our own understandings of issues, while also considering how this confluence of catastrophes presents a disciplinary rupture, so to speak, exposing the importance of familiarity with Asian languages and culture.

The format of the virtual conference will consist of a 48-hour period of open online dialogue and commenting in response to several essays that will be posted at the Fukushima Forum web site (please sign on at Scholars of any discipline are invited to contribute to this discussion on the Fukushima Forum blog, and/or in a more informal, conversational setting on the Fukushima Forum Google Groups site (please register at ). Registration is open and ongoing through 12 March. Participants are also encouraged to submit their own topics and essays for conversation as well as to share information; moderation in both instances will be provided throughout by the co-sponsors.

Throughout the two-day online conference, comments may touch upon these and other topics:

  • histories of tsunami, earthquakes, environment, geological sciences, ocean sciences, and nuclear science in Japan and in relation to other countries
  • the impact of the disasters on Japanese citizens and communities, neighboring countries
  • global and popular culture reactions to the disasters
  • Japanese nuclear power in light of history of atomic bomb and postwar US occupation
  • waste remediation and labor practices
  • government management/public policy of disasters in Japan and beyond
  • refugees and displacement, poverty, public health, and food safety in Japan
  • commemoration and historical memory
  • research agendas and research communities going forward

For more information, please contact Scott Gabriel Knowles at


Fukushima Forum consists of a group of scholars who have formed to exchange ideas around the science, technology, and society (STS) dimensions of the 3.11 disasters.

Teach 3.11 ( ) is a multi-language, online collaborative educational project that serves to introduce resources useful to “teach the disaster” through the lens of history of science, technology, environment, and medicine in global East Asia. Teach 3.11 is also a project of the Forum for the History of Science in Asia.

An STS Forum on Fukushima

Dear Colleagues:

In the wake of Fukushima, many STS scholars are engaging in the debate over the lessons of the disaster.  This includes not only those working directly on Fukushima, but those in related areas such as engineering studies, expertise, nuclear policy, technological governance, disaster studies, and East Asian studies/STS, many of whom are interested in looking at Fukushima from a comparative perspective.

Following the 2011 Cleveland 4S/SHOT/HSS co-located meeting, several of us decided to assemble an initial planning group for the purpose of creating a sustained forum for conversations about the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the integrally related Northeast Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (Higashi Nihon Dai Shinsai). Our hope is to help create a safe and productive place for dialogue that integrates Japanese and non-Japanese perspectives while also balancing academic studies with opportunities for outreach and policy engagement.

With this message, we are hoping to introduce you to our efforts, and to invite you into this conversation. Among the things we would like to help accomplish are:

  • Organizing an online discussion forum for (sts-based) academic discussions about Fukushima.
  • Organizing a series of multi-day workshops, in Japan and the United States, for more intensive, transnational conversations about the disaster (including studies of the disaster in comparative perspective).
  • Offering to help organize and/or diversify Fukushima-related sessions at 4S, SHOT, HSS, American Anthropological Association, and other venues. (See attached “call for papers” for the 4S meeting; we will follow with similar announcements for other meetings.)

With the online discussion forum, we anticipate creating a place for scholars to exchange self-introductions, post literature/review essays, and maintain discussion threads on topics ranging from expertise, to citizen science, to organizational dynamics and the historical/cultural background of the disaster. We have already developed the idea of the multi-day workshop into an NSF workshop proposal (posted under “Workshops” at this site).

You can view the online discussion forum simply by going to this link. For instructions on posting and receiving posts by email, see the online forum page.

You can also join the group of volutneers who are maintaining this site, and helping to organize the forum in all of its different aspects. If interested, please contact::

Atsushi Akera                                                 Scott Gabriel Knowles
STS Department                                            Department of History and Politics
Rensselear Polytechnic Institute                Drexel University
(akeraa ‘at’                             

– On behalf of the “Initial Planning Group” for the STS Forum on Fukushima