The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Roberts Authors Chapter in Winner of "Outstanding Academic Title" Award

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts

Assistant Professor Shannon Roberts of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department was lead author for a chapter on “Automation, Work, and Racial Equity: How Human Systems Engineering Can Shape the Future of Work” in an edited volume that has been recognized as the winner of the "Outstanding Academic Title" by the Choice organization. The award represents the highest caliber of scholarly titles that have been reviewed by Choice and conveys the extraordinary recognition of the academic community.

Choice is the publishing unit of the Association of College and Research Librarians that supports the work and professional development of academic librarians by providing tools and services that help them become more effective advocates for their patrons.

In addition to Roberts, the contributing writers in her chapter were Laurel Smith-Doerr, Shlomo Zilberstein, Henry Renki, Enobong H. Branch, and Tiamba Wilkerson.

The winning volume, Advancing Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Through Human Systems Engineering, highlights how scholars and practitioners of human systems engineering can apply their theories and methods to understand and support healthy communities, include and empower diverse populations, and inspire strategies for a more inclusive future.

This volume, as edited by Rod D. Roscoe, Erin K. Chiou, and Abigail R. Wooldridge (all university professors of engineering), brings together 43 contributing experts from the fields of human factors, ergonomics, psychology, human-computer interaction, and more to demonstrate how these fields can be applied to societal challenges and solutions.

For the winning volume, Roberts was invited to write up findings from a series of workshops beginning in April of 2018 at UMass Amherst, as funded by a $99,970 grant from the National Science Foundation, on understanding technology, racial equity, and the future of work.

The workshops dealt with solutions to complex technology, work, and racial issues, which require the concerted efforts of many interdisciplinary experts “to understand the promises and perils of these major societal shifts,” as Roberts said at the time of the workshops.

According to Roberts, “This project aims to convene experts in social sciences, computational sciences, and engineering in order to articulate the social and technical dimensions in understanding the challenges of shaping emergent technologies that are equitable and result in ‘good’ jobs for a wider range of workers.”

Roberts also noted that the racial gap in pay and the lack of racial diversity in the science and engineering workforce designing our technology are problems that converge with changes in technology and work.

The major goal of the workshops, Roberts said, was to develop a shared knowledge of the current social, organizational, and technological processes transforming labor markets and lay out research questions that will engage computer scientists, engineers, and social scientists in imagining a brighter future for everyone. (June 2021)