Call: “After Covid-19: Crises, Ethics, and Socio-Technical Change” special issue

Call for Papers

Special Issue of IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society:
After Covid-19: Crises, Ethics, and Socio-Technical Change

Confirmed Guest Editors:

Rafael A. Calvo, Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London
Sebastian Deterding, Digital Creativity Labs, University of York
Catherine Flick, Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, De Montfort University
Christoph Luetge, Institute for Ethics in AI, Technical University of Munich (TUM)
Alison Powell, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science
Jack Stilgoe, Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London
Karina Vold, Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto & University of Cambridge

Submissions close: 1 March 2021


As the COVID-19 pandemic shows, crises can catalyse socio-technical changes at a speed and scale otherwise thought impossible. Crises expose the fragility and resilience of our sociotechnical systems – from healthcare to financial markets, internet connectivity, and local communities. Their urgent peril can rush through radical measures, such as states globally rolling out digital contact tracing applications. Crises can accelerate technological trends like the virtualisation of work, commerce, education, and communing, and dramatically reshape markets, threatening economic incumbents and creating new opportunities for innovation and profiteering alike. Thus, we currently see physical retailers and entertainment venues defaulting, while online retail and streaming companies thrive and stores, artists, and manufacturers desperately trial new digitally enabled services and new forms of financing, production, and delivery. Technology companies and scientists are rapidly developing new technologies to respond to the pandemic, from 3D-printing medical devices to data and AI-driven symptom tracking and immunity certification, while struggling to counter tides of unvetted, potentially harmful medical advice, opinion, and cures.

In parallel, ongoing crises like COVID-19 often dramatically reshape political and public demands on science. Standard forms of scientific inquiry, responsible innovation, and technology ethics emphasise slowness, deliberation, critique, long-term anticipation and preparedness, and systematic accumulation and vetting of evidence. In contrast, in periods of crisis, policy-makers and media publics require concrete, real-time decision guidance and interventions from researchers that are at odds with the standard practices of science as well as research and technology ethics. This has led some researchers to suggest their own discipline may not be ‘crisis-ready’.

Finally, many of the dramatic and sudden adaptations to a crisis are bound to stay with us. “After 9/11” has become a marker for a new epoch of pervasive socio-technical regimes of surveillance that were considered exceptional and temporary when introduced. Similarly, many of today’s ad-hoc responses will become historical path dependencies for a new era “after COVID-19”.

Catalysing rapid change; reshaping demands on science, technology, and their regulation; locking in future socio-technical regimes: All these factors make it crucial for researchers and technologists to consider the societal impacts of new technologies and socio-technical changes that respond to COVID-19. But they also invite us to better understand how crises impact socio-technical change, and how we can develop forms of science and technology ethics and regulation that fit the needs and demands of crises.

To this end, this special issue aims to bring together researchers from different disciplines exploring the intersections of technology, ethics, and COVID-19 as an exemplary crisis.


Submissions are especially invited on but not limited to the following topics intersecting with COVID-19 and crises:

  • Responsible innovation and science and technology ethics
  • Science and technology policy, regulation, and governance
  • Public understanding of and engagement with science and technology
  • Innovation processes
  • Health surveillance, privacy, and data protection
  • Algorithmic and technological biases and inequalities
  • Impacts of technologies during social isolation
  • Impacts of technologies on healthcare and key support workers
  • 3D printing and medical devices
  • Future Mobility
  • Data/AI-driven health and social control technologies
  • Virtual/remote work, education, and leisure

Submissions that will be considered out of scope include:

  • Work that does not touch ethical or societal impacts of science and technology
  • Clinical research where a medical journal would be more appropriate


For article formats, templates, and submission information, see .

Submit your papers through


  • Submissions open: 1 June 2020
  • Submissions close: 1 March 2021
  • Inclusion in special issue closes: 1 June 2021
  • Publication of final issue: Sept 2021


Papers will be reviewed and published online first upon acceptance on a rolling basis.

Submitted papers will be reviewed by two guest editors for desk rejection or acceptance to full review within one week of submission.

Papers accepted for full review will be reviewed by two anonymous reviewers and a meta-reviewer, with a target turnaround of three weeks for a review decision.

To be considered for the special issue, revisions of papers that are revise-and-resubmit or accepted with minor/major changes need to be submitted on or before 1 June 2021. Should they require a further cycle of revision or be submitted after 1 June 2021, they will be included in a future regular issue of the Transactions.


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