The Heyman Center (Second Floor Common Room), Columbia University, New York
Diane Vaughan explores the complex work of air traffic controllers, work that is built upon a close relationship between human organizational systems and technology and is remarkably safe given the high level of risk. Vaughan observed the distinct skill sets of air traffic controllers and the ways their workplaces changed to adapt to technological developments and public and political pressures. She chronicles the ways these forces affected their jobs, from their relationships with one another and the layouts of their workspace to their understandings of their job and its place in society. The result is a nuanced and engaging look at an essential role that demands great coordination, collaboration, and focus—a role that technology will likely never be able to replace. Even as the book conveys warnings about complex systems and the liabilities of technological and organizational innovation, it shows the kinds of problem-solving solutions that evolved over time and the importance of people.
Free and open to the public; registration required. Columbia University ID holders may attend in person and must register via Google Forms; non-affiliates may attend virtually and must register via Zoom. For more information, please visit the event webpage. Please visit the Heyman’s Center website for directions.