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Michael Bernstein

Michael Bernstein

Assistant Research Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society

School for the Future of Innovation in Society
Arizona State University
PO Box 8756-3
Tempe, AZ 85287-5603


  • Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
  • Assistant Research Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society


Michael explores ways to align human pursuits of science and technology with long-term societal interests, like sustainability. Drawing on a range of descriptive and participatory social science research methods, Michael collaborates with science and engineering educators, students, researchers, national and local policy makers, businesses, and civil society organizations across a variety of scientific and technical domains (e.g., nanotechnology, global climate change, nuclear waste management). For examples, one of his current projects, GLOCULL, partners universities, cities, non-profit organizations, and entrepreneurs to develop local solutions at the nexus of food, water, and energy in society, and compare these solutions with partners in the Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, Brazil, and Germany. He earned his Ph.D. in sustainability at Arizona State University and holds a B.A. from Amherst College, where he majored in geology.

Michael spends the majority of his time with the Visualizing and Quantifying the Social Contribution of Future Business team of the Global KAITEKI Center at ASU. The team is developing long-range strategic planning tools to support the Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Group in its mission and vision to realize KAITEKI—sustainable well-being of people, society, and Earth systems.

Examples of his practices include:

  • contributing to projects on climate preparedness, resilience, and adaptation led by the U.S. White House Council on Environmental Quality;
  • evaluating Science Outside the Lab, a policy immersion program to help PhD scientists and engineers learn about the relationships between science and government in the U.S.;
  • analyzing efforts by the U.S. Global Change Research Program to manage research to be useable by city, state, tribal, and national policy-makers;
  • staffing the Expert & Citizen Assessment of Science & Technology (ECAST) network’s efforts to use citizen deliberations and expert analysis to inform U.S. Department of Energy decision-making about siting nuclear waste;
  • assessing and advancing responsible research and innovation across European Union member state and associated country science and technology funding (European Commission funded project: NewHoRRIzon). Specific foci: future and emerging technologies; sustainable food systems and the bioeconomy.


  • PhD, Sustainability, Arizona State University, 2016
  • BA, Geology, Amherst College, 2008


Journal Articles

In Press

Bernstein, M. J., M. del Mar Mancha-Cisneros, M. Tyson, U. Brady, C. Rubinos, H. C. Shin, S. Vallury, S. Smith-Heisters, E. Ratajczyk and J. M. Anderies. Mapping Ostrom's Common-Pool Resource Systems Coding Handbook to the Coupled Infrastructure Systems Framework to enable comparative research. International Journal of the Commons


Agapito-Tenfen, S. Z., A. S. Okoli, M. J. Bernstein, O. Wikmark and A. I. Myhr. 2018. Revisiting risk governance of GM plants: The need to consider new and emerging gene-editing techniques. Frontiers in Plant Science 9:Art. 1874. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01874. (link )


Bernstein, M. J., K. Reifschneider, I. Bennett and J. M. Wetmore. 2017. Science outside the lab: Helping graduate students in science and engineering understand the complexities of science policy. Science and Engineering Ethics 23(3):861-882. DOI: 10.1007/s11948-016-9818-6. (link )

Harsh, M., M. J. Bernstein, J. Wetmore, S. Cozzens, T. Woodson and R. Castillo. 2017. Preparing engineers for the challenges of community engagement. European Journal of Engineering Education 42(6):1154-1173. DOI: 10.1080/03043797.2016.1270902. (link )


Bernstein, M. J., A. Wiek, K. Brundiers, K. Pearson, A. Garinger, B. Kay and A. Golub. 2016. Mitigating urban sprawl effects: A collaborative tree and shade intervention in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability 21(4):414-431. DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2014.965672. (link )

Foley, R. W., M. J. Bernstein and A. Wiek. 2016. Towards an alignment of activities, aspirations and stakeholders for responsible innovation. Journal of Responsible Innovation 3(3):209-232. DOI: 10.1080/23299460.2016.1257380. (link )

Wiek, A. D., R. W. Foley, D. H. Guston and M. J. Bernstein. 2016. Broken promises and breaking ground for responsible innovation -- intervention research to transform business-as-usual in nanotechnology innovation. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 28(6):639-650. DOI: 10.1080/09537325.2015.1129399. (link )


Bernstein, M. J., R. W. Foley and I. Bennett. 2014. An operationalized post-normal science framework for assisting in the development of complex science policy solutions: The case of nanotechnology governance. Journal of Nanoparticle Research 16:2492. DOI: 10.1007/s11051-014-2492-1. (link )


Wiek, A., M. J. Bernstein, M. D. Laubichler, G. Caniglia, B. Minteer and D. J. Lang. 2013. A global classroom for international sustainability education. Creative Education 4(4A):19-28. DOI: 10.4236/ce.2013.44A004. (link )


Basile, G., M. J. Bernstein and S. G. McNall. 2012. Editorial: Trust, sustainability, and political innovation: A new reality for our future. Sustainability, the Journal of Record 5(3):123-126. (link )

Bernstein, M. J. and B. Boyer-White. 2012. Challenges and dynamics of urbanization: A TSR inteview with Dr. Karen Seto (Part I). The Sustainability Review 3(3):. (link )

Book Chapters

In Press

Bernstein, M. J. Governance and institutions for responsible research and innovation in European framework funding. Responsible Research and Innovation in Policy and Practice . Springer Nature.

Withycombe Keeler, L., M. J. Bernstein and C. Selin. Intervening through futures for sustainable presents: Scenarios, sustainability, and responsible research and innovation. In: Grunwald, A., A. Loach, M. Meister and I. Schulz-Schaeffer eds., Socio-Technical Futures Shaping the Present: Empirical Examples and Analytical Challenges in Social Studies of Science and Technology and Technology Assessment. Springer.


Harlow, J., M. J. Bernstein, B. Girod and A. D. Wiek. 2016. Consumption and sustainability. Pp. 293-301 In: Heinrichs, H., P. Martens, G. Michelsen and A. D. Wiek eds., Sustainability Science: An Introduction. Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-7242-6_24. ISBN: 978-94-017-7241-9. (link )

Harsh, M., E. B. Kennedy, M. J. Bernstein and K. Reifschneider. 2016. Immersive policy education & science outside the lab: Preparing engineers & scientists to guide technological development in transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral environments. Pp. 384-391 In: Mazijn, B. ed., Proceedings of the 8th Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development. Bruges, 4-7 September 2016.

Wiek, A. D., M. J. Bernstein, R. W. Foley, M. C. Cohen, N. Forrest, C. Kuzdas, B. Kay and L. Withycombe Keeler. 2016. Operationalizing competencies in higher education for sustainable development. Pp. 241-260 In: Barth, M., G. Michelsen, M. Rieckmann and I. Thomas eds., Routledge Handbook of Higher Education for Sustainable Development. Routledge. London and New York. ISBN: 9780415727303.



Bernstein, M. J. and F. Wickson. 2017. Diagnosis of responsible research and innovation in future and emerging technologies program of Horizon 2020. Poster presented at the NewHoRRIzon Project Consortium Meeting (invited), December 11-12, 2017, Vienna, Austria.


Bernstein, M. J. 2016. Towards useable science: The case of the US Global Change Research Program. Poster presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, 11-15 February 2016, Washington, DC. (link )


Bernstein, M. J. 2015. Science outside the lab: changing perspective on the role of science & engineering society. Poster presented at the AAAS 2015 Annual Meeting: Innovations, Information, and Imaging, 12-16 February 2015, San Jose, California. (link )


Pollard, L., M. Sampson, M. Palta, M. Bernstein, T. Combs, X. Dong, S. R. Earl, N. B. Grimm, R. L. Hale, A. Handler, C. Kochert, J. McGehee, E. Holland, M. Ribot, D. Shorts, A. Suchy and E. Worth. 2014. Greenhouse gas emissions in an urban environment. Poster presented at the 16th Annual CAP LTER Poster Symposium and All Scientists Meeting, January 2014, Skysong, Scottsdale, AZ. (link )

Reifschneider, K. and M. J. Bernstein. 2014. Science outside the lab: Reporting on a science policy education intervention. Poster presented at the Science and Technology Policy Gordon Research Conference: Systems Approach to Research and Practice, 10-15 August 2014, Waterville, NH. (link )



Bernstein, M. J. 2018. Does any of this really make a difference? An interactive mapping session to reflect on our work in “the R&I system”. Presentation at the ELSA Norway Fourth Biannual Conference (keynote session activity), November 2, 2018, Norway, between Tromsø and Bergen.

Bernstein, M. J. 2018. Institutionalizing responsible research and innovation in Horizon 2020 programming: Reflections from the NewHoRRIzon Project. Presentation at the TRRIPP Conference (invited), September 18, 2018, Tartu, Estonia.

Bernstein, M. J. 2018. Institutionalizing responsible research and innovation in Horizon 2020 programming: Reflections from the NewHoRRIzon Project. Presentation at the TRRIPP Conference (invited panelist), September 18, 2018, Tartu, Estonia.

Bernstein, M. J. 2018. Saving responsible research and innovation? Towards a discursive institutionalist analysis of RRI in Europe’s Horizon 2020 programming. Presentation at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (invited), December 17, 2018, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.

Bernstein, M. J. and F. Wickson. 2018. Responsible research & innovation in Horizon 2020: Programming reflections from the NewHoRRizon Project. Presentation at the S.NET 2018 Annual Conference, June 25, 2018, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Bernstein, M. J. and F. Wickson. 2018. Social labs for responsible research and innovation: Experiences from a coordination and support action. Presentation at the Meeting of the Digital Life Norway RRI Learning Arena, March 19, 2018, Bergen, Norway.


Bernstein, M. J. 2017. Inverting interventions
 with/in science, technology & society: World café. Presentation at the Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation 2017 Annual Meeting (invited), May 15-16, 2017, Tempe, AZ.

Bernstein, M. J. 2017. Responsible innovation and sustainability: Interventions in the governance of research & development. Presentation at the School of Community Resources and Development Graduate Student and Faculty Seminar (invited), March 22, 2017, Arizona State University, Downtown Phoenix campus, Phoenix, AZ.

Bernstein, M. J., U. Brady, M. del Mar Mancha-Cisneros, E. Ratajczyk, M. Tyson, C. Rubinos, H. C. Shin, S. Smith-Heisters and S. Vallury. 2017. Found in translation: Dialogues between coding variables and frameworks in studies of common-pool resources. Presentation at the Practicing the Commons: XVI Biennial International Association for the Study of the Commons Conference, July 10-14, 2017, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Bernstein, M. J. and F. Wickson. 2017. NewHoRRIzon: shaping the future of responsible research and innovation, year 1. Presentation at the S.NET 2017 Annual Conference: Engaging the Flux, October 11, 2017, Phoenix, AZ.

Withycombe Keeler, L. and M. J. Bernstein. 2017. Building capacity for sustainability and resilience planning in a desert city. Presentation at the National Adaptation Forum, presentation at the Tools Café, May 9-11, 2017, Saint Paul, MN.


Bernstein, M. J. 2016. Helping science engineering graduate students understand science policy. Presentation at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration , October 22, 2016, Washington, D.C.

Bernstein, M. J. 2016. Towards useable information: A study of the US Global Change Research Program. Presentation at the US Global Change Research Program Office, 16 March 2016, Washington, DC.

Foley, R. W., M. J. Bernstein, L. Withycombe Keeler and J. Harlow. 2016. Urban planning and techno-science: Exploring knowledge asymmetries and future imaginaries––The case of self-driving cars.. Presentation at the 4S/EASST Conference BCN-2016, Aug 31-Sep 3, 2016, Barcelona, Spain. (link )


Bernstein, M. J. 2015. An intervention research approach to responsible innovation. Presentation at the Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy, 17-19 October 2015, Atlanta, Georgia. (link )

Bernstein, M. J. 2015. Intervention research for responsible innovation: A pragmatic approach. Presentation at the STGlobal 2015:, 10-11 April 2015, Washington, DC. (link )

Bernstein, M. J. and R. W. Foley. 2015. Assessing the public value of science policies: Lessons from the US Global Change Research Program and the US National Nanotechnology Initiative. Presentation at the S.Net International Conference 2015, 18-21 October 2015, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (link )


Bernstein, M. J. 2014. Cross-scale comparisons of urban sustainability strategies: Environmental science, technology and urban policy implications (panel). Presentation at the DuPont Summit on Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, 5 December 2014, Washington, DC. (link )

Bernstein, M. J. 2014. Intervention research for the design of transition tactics to responsible innnovation. Presentation at the Society of the Study of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies S.NET 6th Annual Meeting, 21-24 September 2014, Karksruhe, Germany. (link )

Bernstein, M. J., R. W. Foley and I. Bennett. 2014. Guidelines for solutions to socio-technical problems. Presentation at the STGlobal Consortium, 4-5 April 2014, Washington, D.C.

Foley, R. W. and M. J. Bernstein. 2014. Normative principles to guide the process of responsible innovation. Presentation at the Situating Solidarities: Social Challenges for Science and Technology Studies, 17-19 September 2014, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun, Poland. (link )

Harsh, M., S. Cozzens, J. M. Wetmore, M. J. Bernstein, R. Castillo, T. Woodson, D. Soumonni and R. Cortes-Lobos. 2014. Postgraduate training as a space to shape the interface between emerging technologies and development: A short course approach. Presentation at the The Closing Conference of the Nanotechnology for Development Conference, 15-17 December 2014, Maastricht, University, Brussels, Belgium.


Bernstein, M. J. 2013. Education initiatives: The global classroom experiment and sustainability science education for teachers. Presentation at the Tech de Monterrey and Global Institute of Sustainability ASU Education Exchange, 9-12 June 2013, Mexico City, United Mexican States.

Foley, R. W., M. J. Bernstein and Y. Kim. 2013. Ground control: linking top-down and bottom-up approaches for international nanotechnology governance. Presentation at the First Annual Conference on Governance of Emerging Technologies: Law, Policy and Ethics, 20-21 May 2013, Chandler, Arizona.


Bernstein, M. J., B. T. Jordan and J. T. Cheney. 2008. Rhyolite petrogenesis at the Tertiary Arnes central volcano, northwestern Iceland. Presentation at the KECK Geology Consortium 21st Annual KECK Research Symposium Short Contributions, (link )



Bernstein, M. J., T. Brandstatter, E. Griessler, J. Cohen, A. Loeber, L. Seebacher, I. Maschalek and E. Unterfrauner. 2018. NewHoRRIzon Project D2.1: Diagnosis: RRI in Excellent Science. European Commission. (link )

Braun, R. and M. J. Bernstein. 2018. Responsible Research and Innovation in H2020: Current Status and Steps Forward. European Commission. Policy Brief #1 (link )

Griessler, E., E. Alvarez, M. J. Bernstein, A. Bierwirth, R. Braun, M. V. Christensen, S. Daimer, K. Goos, H. Honigmayer, N. Mejlgaard, M. L. Nielsen, M. W. Nielsen, J. Starkbaum and R. Tabares. 2018. NewHoRRIzon Project D5.1: Diagnosis: RRI in Diversity of Approaches. European Commission.

Prill, M. A., R. Lindner, M. Allinger, M. J. Bernstein, T. Bratan, R. Braun, R. Gianni, K. Goos, V. Ikonen, M. Nieminen, M. Schrammel, L. Seebacher, T. Tumbragel, J. Tyynela and U. Wunderle. 2018. NewHoRRIzon Project D4.1: Diagnosis: RRI in Societal Challenges. European Commission.

Robert Bosch Stiftung Postdoc Academy for Transformational Leadership, 2018 Cohort, 2018

Amherst Memorial Fellowship, Amherst College, 2014

Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiative Scholarship, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, 2013

Amherst Memorial Fellowship, Amherst College, 2013

White House Council on Environmental Quality, Energy and Climate Change Intern, Summer 2012, 2012

John Woodruff Simpson Fellowship, Amherst College, 2012