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College of Arts and Sciences

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The Ann Johnson Institute for Science, Technology and Society

The Ann Johnson Institute for Science, Technology and Society is dedicated to building diverse communities for the study of technology, medicine and science in past and present societies. The activities we support are designed to contribute to building a better community because at the AJI community is the method.

The AJI was established in 2018 in the memory of Ann Johnson, and through the generous donation of Jim and Elaine Johnson, and Katherine Lewandowski.  Ann was a faculty member in the History and Philosophy departments of UofSC from 2004-2015. In 2015 she left South Carolina to take up a position at Cornell University. Ann passed away suddenly in December 2016 from a rare form of cancer.  Ann was an excellent scholar and teacher who successfully bridged disciplinary boundaries. But most of all, she was a supportive and loyal friend. The AJI aims to embody these characteristics by funding interdisciplinary communities for research and pedagogy. Equally, it strives to be a place where members of the academic community, students, and those outside the University feel welcome, valued and at ease.

The AJI is co-directed by Leah McClimans (Philosophy) and Allison Marsh (History).


The AJI seeks to build diverse and inclusive communities from the ground up, so when co-Director Leah McClimans had the opportunity to coach a First Lego League ( team of 5th graders, she took it. First Lego League (FLL) is an international competition that introduces children (ages 4-16) to STEM exploration. Older children (ages 9-16) create an innovation project based on a yearly theme (this year: outside play), design a robot, code it to perform a 2.5-minute autonomous mission, and demonstrate Lego's Core Values (discovery, innovation, inclusion, teamwork, impact, and fun).

Leah's team--Technic Titans!--had no previous experience with FLL and they were on the young side of their age group, so they didn't expect to win anything at their regional competition. Instead, they focused on having fun, learning a lot, and completing the projects. For their innovation project, they spoke to an electrical engineer and an architect who specializes in Design Thinking, for their autonomous mission they had a "failure wall" of the hundreds of times their robot didn't make it, and their robot design, n3rdy, went through many iterations with an exponential number of Lego semi-permanently strewn around the game table. 

On tournament day the team was nervous, but they did their best and told the judges all about their adventures (when asked how they solved disagreements, they admitted there was sometimes shouting). Without any expectations, they finished and went to enjoy their day off school. But by the afternoon the robot missions had been scored and Technic Titans were in second place! By the closing ceremony all the scores were in and against all odds they held their second-place finish--and won best robot design! Technic Titans are now off to the finals! Best of luck TT!!

The AJI is now on Facebook! Follow us @ to get notifications of upcoming events and opportunities. 

Due to COVID-19, the UofSC + Columbia Initiative Conference will be delayed until Spring 2022.

The Ann Johnson Institute for Science, Technology & Society is delighted to announce the winners of the annual Book Manuscript Workshop for 2020/2021: 

Rachel Ankeny, Professor, Departments of History and Philosophy, and Deputy Dean Research, Faculty of Arts, University of Adelaide 

In Defense of Medical Cases uses methods primarily from the philosophy of medicine and science but is informed by the history and social studies of medicine. This book will explore the construction and use of medical cases, with a particular focus on how they function to produce knowledge in medical research and clinical practice. Its arguments will have implications well beyond medicine for applied and hybrid sciences more generally, particularly in rapidly changing fields with heavy dependence on technology development.  

Rosalind Donald, Postdoctoral Associate in Environmental Communication and Justice, Department of Marine Ecosystems and Society, University of Miami 

Greenlining investigates the relationship between environmental policies and displacement in Miami-Dade, an area that is increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the second-most unequal in the United States, with a severe shortage of affordable housing. Climate gentrification is high on the agenda in the city as developers target high ground away from the water in areas that are historically Black due to segregation and displacement.  

Elizabeth Rodwell, Assistant Professor, Department of Information and Logistics Technology, University of Houston 

Push the Button is the result of unprecedented access to the Japanese television industry and, based on 18 months of fieldwork among broadcast and print journalists, contributes to a mission within the fields of anthropology and communication studies to understand how creative professionals are adapting to ongoing technological change and obsolescence within their fields.

These recipients along with Monica Barra, one of our 2019/2020 winners, will be having their workshops in the 2021/2022 academic year.

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Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.