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Phoebe Sengers

Associate Professor

Bill and Melinda Gates Hall, Room 210

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University
  • B.S., Johns Hopkins University



I am a faculty member in Science & Technology Studies and Information Science at Cornell. I integrate ethnography, history and design to analyze the social impact of technologies and imagine how technologies could have other effects. I examine how technologies are designed and created, the cultural assumptions and values that are embodied in them, and how technologies play into and shape visions of who we are and how we should live. The way they do this does not necessarily follow designers' intentions; technologies are appropriated and picked up by people in complex situations in ways that sometimes reinforce, sometimes question the agendas that drove their creation. I am interested in the visions of time, labor, and value that technologies are bound up with, who is left out of these visions and how, and methods for imagining alternatives. What worlds are we creating together and how do we inhabit them? What worlds might we wish to create instead? My current major project is a study of sociotechnical change in a rural village in Newfoundland, Canada.


  • Science and Technology Studies

Graduate Fields

  • Computer Science
  • Information Science
  • Science and Technology Studies



Vera Khovanskaya, Phoebe Sengers, Melissa Mazmanian, and Charles Darrah. “Reworking the gaps between design and ethnography.” In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '17).ACM, New York, NY, pp. 5373-5385.

Vera Khovanskaya, Maria Bezaitis, and Phoebe Sengers. “The Case of the Strangerationist: Re-interpreting Critical Technical Practice.” In Proceedings of the 2016 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, pp 134-145, 2016.

Hrönn Brynjarsdóttir, Maria Håkansson, James Pierce, Eric Baumer, Carl DiSalvo, and Phoebe Sengers. “Sustainably Unpersuaded: How Persuasion Narrows Our Vision of Sustainability.” In Proc. CHI 2012, April 2012.

Stephen Purpura, Victoria Schwanda, Kaiton Williams, William Stubler, and Phoebe Sengers.  “Fit4Life: The Design of a Persuasive Technology Promoting Healthy Behavior and Ideal Weight.” In Proc. CHI 2011, 423-432.

Carl DiSalvo, Phoebe Sengers, and Hrönn Brynjarsdóttir.  “Mapping the Landscape of Sustainable HCI.”  In Proc. CHI 2010.

“How Emotion is Made and Measured.” Kirsten Boehner, Rogerio DePaula, Paul Dourish, and Phoebe Sengers. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Special Issue on Evaluating Affective Interactions. April 2007, pp. 275-291.  

“Making by Making Strange: Defamiliarization and the design of domestic technology.” Genevieve Bell, Mark Blythe, and Phoebe Sengers. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), Special issue on Social Issues and HCI, Vol. 12, No. 2, June 2005, Pages 149-173.