Christo Sims is Associate Professor of Communication at the University of California, San Diego. He also holds affiliations with Urban Studies, Science Studies, Ethnic Studies, and the Design Lab at UCSD. During the 2020-21 academic year, he was an in-residence member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
A technology studies scholar who focuses on social inequalities, Sims has authored award-winning books and acclaimed articles at the interfaces of science and technology studies, sociology, anthropology, communication & media studies, and urban studies. Trained as an ethnographer, his current book project focuses on how regional economies centered on knowledge work are attempting to sustain economic growth in the face of ecological limits and intensifying social inequalities. Using Silicon Valley as a case study, the project traces how processes of industrial development in the tech sector have contributed to environmental injustices and a crisis of affordable housing for the service and care sector workers who materially sustain the San Francisco Bay Area’s innovation-centered economy. Previously, he studied how social reformers in the U.S. routinely turn to new information, computing, and media technologies to “fix” educational institutions and to uproot entrenched inequities of racialized social class despite decades of disappointing results.
He first solo-authored book, Disruptive Fixation: School Reform and the Pitfalls of Techno-Idealism (Princeton), won the Best Book Award from the Communication, Information Technology, and Media Sociology section of the American Sociological Association. His most recent work was published in the acclaimed journal Public Culture, and he is currently co-editing a special issue on Science and the State with members of 2020-21 class of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study. Sims is also a member of the Social Science Research Council’s Just Tech Network.
Sims teaches courses focusing on technology studies, environmental justice, social inequality, social movements, and the ethics and politics of design. Having worked as both an ethnographer and a designer, Sims was a founding member of both the Studio for Ethnographic Design at UCSD and the University of California Collaboratory for Ethnographic Design. He is also a core member of the Nature, Space, and Politics research group.
Raised in rural Northern California, Sims is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bowdoin College. He earned his master’s and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and he currently lives in San Diego.