Our research engages the many dimensions of the process of technoscientific innovation, from those that make it possible to those that constrain it. We focus predominantly on the upstream spectrum of innovation -- from the design, articulation, and funding of research programs to the patenting and publication of their outcomes – paying particular attention to the process, practices, instruments, and techniques of innovation and to the conceptual and practical problems of knowledge transfer. Because the skills and competences necessary to develop a fine-grained understanding of the process of innovation are distributed across the sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, and the professional schools, CSIS wants to provide a space for real collaboration between traditionally hard-to-connect campus cultures.
Through detailed case studies (contemporary and historical alike), CSIS analyzes the role that training, cultural background, and cross-disciplinary mobility play in the emergence of innovation, as well as the new institutional, technical, and social arrangements that sustain it (from innovative laboratory architecture and university-industry configurations, to distributed and cyberinfrastructure-based collaborations, to alternative systems of publication and new metrics of quality and performance assessment). Intellectual property (both traditional regimes and more recent platforms like free software, open source, science commons, and norm-based reward systems) is a central focus of CSIS, as are issues pertaining to bioprospecting and the access to and reward of traditional knowledge.
CSIS looks at innovation where it happens: not only in university and corporate labs dedicated to traditional disciplines and industries, but also in user-innovation contexts, collaborative commons-based settings, in legal innovations concerning patentable subject matter (business models and methods patents), in the formation of new disciplines and fields (nanotechnology, digital humanities, synthetic biology), and in departments and schools that have only recently become intellectual property producers like visual and digital arts (video games and web applications) or education (distance learning, innovative pedagogies, etc). Given the networked nature of technoscience and innovation, CSIS traces it beyond the global north, following patterns of international mobility, training, and collaboration