Nicolas Baya-Laffite

Nicolas Baya Laffite is Associate Professor of Sociology of Science and Technology at the University of Geneva (UNIGE). Trained in political science and metropolitan environmental management at the University of Buenos Aires, he obtained his PhD in history of science and technology from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris.

As a scholar contributing to Science and Technology Studies (STS), his work focuses on conflict in the production of sociotechnical orderings and innovation. Drawing on different branches of sociology (including political, economical and legal), he is particularly attentive to the interplay between technological trajectories, policy instruments, expertise devices, industries’ attempts to self-regulation, and social challenges in different arenas across multiple scales. For a long time devoted to environmental and climate matters, the focus of his research has recently shifted onto digital transformations, including in knowledge production about society and the conflicts raised by new controversial approaches. His most recent project focuses on innovation trajectories of digital contact tracing in Europe, looking at the Swiss and French cases. 

Having worked in several cross-disciplinary object-oriented collaborative projects (FNS WikiMaps, ANR MEDEA, EU-FP7 EMAPS, and EU-FP6 CIPAST), his approach relies on both traditional social science methods, qualitative and occasionally quantitative, and digital methods including the repurposing of digital traces, computer-assisted text analysis, and visualizations for distant readings.

He currently teaches STS related courses, both at bachelor, masters and PhD levels. Previously thought STS courses, digital sociology, sociology of modernity, and political theory at several universities, including EPFL, AgroParisTech Paris, Sciences Po Paris, Université Gustave Eiffel, and University of Buenos Aires.

Before joining the UNIGE, Nicolas Baya-Laffite worked at the STSLab of the Université de Lausanne, at the médialab Sciences Po, and at the LISIS research unit at the Université Paris-Est. He was also visiting scholar at the Sociology of Politics and Governance group at TU Berlin and the Centro CTS at Universidad Maimonides (Argentina). 

He currently supervises 3 PhD thesis: one first one on the introduction of data sciences in the Swiss administration, a second one on the government of environnemental impacts of the digital transition, with a focus on data centers, and a third one on the digitalization of practices before, during and after mega cultural events, looking at the case of the Fête des Vignerons, held every 25 years in Vevey, Switzerland.

Beyond academia, he is often solicited for third stream activities, serving as an expert in the field of “science in society” for Swiss administrations and other national and international organisations, including French Risk Assessment Agency, French Ministry of the Environment’s REPERE program, OECD, and UNESCO’s MOST program, among others.