Darin Barney

Canada Research Chair in Technology and Citizenship

Tier 2 - 2005-04-01
Renewed: 2010-04-01
McGill University
Social Sciences and Humanities


Research involves

Investigating the relationship between technology and citizenship.

Research relevance

The research aims to help Canadians balance the benefits of technological innovation with the requirements of democratic citizenship.

Citizenship in a Technological Society

Is the culture of technology a culture of citizenship? Can a society be innovative and democratic at the same time? How do we balance our commitment to technological progress with our commitment to democratic politics?

These are the questions that have animated Darin Barney's research since the publication of his award-winning book, Prometheus Wired: The Hope for Democracy in the Age of Network Technology. In this, and several subsequent publications, Professor Barney examined the often uneasy rapport between the priorities of technological societies and the demands of democratic citizenship.

Now, as the Canada Research Chair in Technology and Citizenship, Professor Barney is focusing on two projects that look at this problem from an interdisciplinary perspective.

The first project, Education and Citizenship in the Digital Age, investigates the recent restructuring of education in Canada in response to new technologies, the imperatives of innovation, and our knowledge-based economy. In it, Professor Barney asks whether the transformation of our education system has adequately provided for the cultivation of citizenship in the context of technological dynamism. He includes an analysis of recent public policy and state discourse, K-12 curricula throughout Canada, and critical case studies of select Canadian universities.

The second project investigates technological innovation and citizenship in rural Canada. Here Professor Barney focuses on three regions-the Prairies, the Maritimes, and the North-and examines both the introduction of new technologies (ranging from the internet to "high throughput" grain terminals) and the status of previous technologies (such as broadcast media and wooden grain elevators). He hopes to show how rural Canadians' experience of technological change relates to their participation as citizens in the decisions that shape their social, political, and economic lives.