​B.S. Molecular and Cellular Biology/Political Science, Beloit College, 2002Ph.D. Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2012​

"My research and teaching is focused on sustainable, community centered innovation in consumer good, digital citizenship, standards, and smart cities. "

Sean Ferguson, Assistant Professor

Sean Ferguson has been teaching within the STS curriculum since 2014 and has partnered with Assistant Professor Rider Foley to explore Engineering Education Assessment Innovations in this capacity.  His research includes work on digital citizenship, ethics, and the open data movement with Assistant Professor Caitlin Wylie and Associate Professor Kay Neeley.  His research and teaching related to standards and Smart Cities has received funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as a series of internal grants.  This work, in collaboration with Assistant Professor Sharon Ku and Professor Brantly Womack is a methodological inquiry into multi-sited ethnography and a comparison of Smart City Imaginaries in serveral urban locations in the United States, China, and Northern Africa.  He draws upon social movement studies, environmental sociology, and STS to evaluate the values, agendas, and material culture of evolving urban spaces.  Prior work includes evaluation of how the bioeconomy, particularly bioplastics, emerge and are governed at multiple scales.


  • NIST Education Award 2018
  • 3Cavaliers Interdisciplinary Collaboration Grant 2018
  • RPI HASS Graduate Research Fellowship 2010-2012

Research Interests

  • Smart Cities
  • Science, Technology and Society
  • Digital Citizenship and Open Data
  • Community Engagement and Community Centered Design
  • Standards and Non-governmental Governing of Technology

In the News

  • Support for Student Competition

    University Students Join Standards Negotiations during ANSI Competition in DC

    ANSI Congratulates Winning Student Team from UVA


    Students representing five universities and college teams from across the U.S. put their standards negotiation skills to the test during the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI) recent 3rd Standards Negotiation Simulation Competition held in Washington, DC. Facilitated by the ANSI Committee on Education, the event preceded conferences during World Standards Week 2018.

    Teams from the City College of New York (CCNY), Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), The University of Tampa, The University of Virginia (UVA), and The University of Maryland had a different role but a common challenge at the event: to develop a vehicle to vehicle (V2V) standard. The simulation was an opportunity for the students to partake in standardization development— a process which may typically take months and multiple meetings. The exercise helped condense standardization development into just a few hours, with the support of collaborative briefings, and mentors on-hand to coach the students.

    Judges from ASTM International, UL, San Jose State, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the International Code Council (ICC), and staff from ANSI elected the student team from UVA as the winner. The winning students were chosen for their skills in strategy, collaboration, and negotiation, and ultimately, their ability to achieve their main objective in their standardization development role. Jeff Strauss, a professor at Northwestern University, led the team discussions for the day.

    "During this event, it became apparent how much collaboration was needed during the standardization process," said Deke Lueker, an engineering student, and part of the winning UVA team, which also included Matthew David Dean, Tony Ge, Nathaniel Grevatt, and mentors Sean Ferguson and Tsai-Hsuan Ku (pictured). "The amount of non-technical debate surprised me, especially since autonomous vehicles seems like a very technical topic."

    "We were so pleased with the successful outcome of the event, and it was great to see such exceptionally bright students from five top schools in the country putting their talents together to highlight standards development," said Lisa Rajchel, ANSI. "It's ANSI's hope to continue to engage these students and schools in the ANSI Federation and encourage their involvement in standardization activities and events."

    ANSI's standards competition builds on the success of the previous simulations, and is part of ANSI's long-term effort to support and strengthen standardization education in the U.S. ANSI thanks the sponsors: John Deere, UL, ASTM International, International Code Council, IAPMO, American Dental Association, and NSF.

    At the event, ANSI also announced its 2019 Student Paper Competition, which asks students to write about how standards help mitigate disaster. The competition is open to students who are enrolled full- or part-time in associate, undergraduate, or graduate programs during the period of September 2018 to April 2019 in U.S. higher education institution.

    See related articles:

    ANSI Announces 2019 Student Paper Competition: “How Do Standards Help Mitigate Disaster?”

    ANSI Announces Winner of 2018 Student Paper Competition

    Read More

Selected Publications

  • Beyond Technological Literacy: Open Data as Active Democratic Engagement? Accepted for Publication in Digital Culture and Society. C.D. Wylie, K.A. Neeley, S. Ferguson
  • Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes and ABET Accreditation: A pilot study of fourth year engineering students using longitudinal concept maps. ASEE 2017 Annual Conference submission. Ferguson, Sean and Rider W. Foley
  • Review of “Chemicals without Harm: Policies for a Sustainable World” Science and Public Policy, 2015, 1–2. Ferguson, Sean
  • Sustainable Bioplastics: International Technopolitical Projects and Local Stakeholders. Knowledge from the Margins Conference August 2015; under review for edited volume. Michigan State University. Ferguson, Sean
  • Standards as Political Contestation and Scientization of Anticipatory Governance: Building and Defining ‘Green’ Bioplastic from 1980 to 2015. in process. Ferguson, Sean
  • “Introduction to Renewable Resources,” NYSBA’s Government Law and Policy Journal 15, no. 1 (Summer 2013), 52-54. John Williams, Carl J. Mas, and Sean Ferguson
  • “New York State Energy History and Politics,” in The Handbook of New York State Politics, ed. Gerald Benjamin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 865–897. Paul DeCotis and Sean Ferguson
  • Plastics Without Petroleum History and Politics of'Green'Plastics in the United States. Diss. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2012. Ferguson, Sean Michael
  • Measuring the amorphous: Substantive and methodological outcomes from concept maps. Under Review in Journal of Engineering Education Rider Foley, Sean Ferguson, and Catherine Pollack

Courses Taught

  • STS4500
  • STS4600