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The Future of Science Governance: Publics, Policies, Practices


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In this paper we develop new insights on science governance at a time when an emphasis on public engagement in responding to questions of trust in science is giving way to a more systemic and networked perspective. In a meta-analysis across seventeen UK public dialogue processes we identify five spheres of public concern about the governance of science and technology relating to: the purposes of science; trust; inclusion; speed and direction of innovation; and equity. Forty in-depth interviews with senior UK sciencepolicy actors reveal highly partial institutional responses to these concerns and help explain the underlying processes that close down, and at times open up, reflection and response on public values. Finally, we consider the implications of this analysis for the future of science governance, prospects for more anticipatory, reflexive, and inclusive forms of governing, and the roles for critical social science inquiry.
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The Future of Science Governance: Publics, policies, practices
Please cite as: Macnaghten, P. and Chilvers, J. (2014) The future of science governance:
publics, policies, practices, Environment and Planning C: 32: 530–548
In this paper we develop new insights on science governance at a time when an emphasis on
public engagement in responding to questions of trust in science is giving way to a more
systemic and networked perspective. In a meta-analysis across 17 UK public dialogue
processes we identify five spheres of public concern about the governance of science and
technology relating to: the purposes of science; trust; inclusion; speed and direction of
innovation; and equity. 40 in-depth interviews with senior UK science-policy actors reveal
highly partial institutional responses to these concerns and help explain the underlying
processes that close down, and at times open up, reflection and response on public values.
Finally, we consider the implications of this analysis for the future of science governance,
prospects for more anticipatory, reflexive and inclusive forms of governing, and the roles for
critical social science inquiry.
Keywords: Science governance, public dialogue, public concerns, models of engagement,
institutional responses, reflexivity
1. Introduction
Science and technology have, without doubt, a remarkable potential to disrupt societies,
cultures, politics and the environment. This situation is highly ambiguous in environment and
risk domains where science is (often simultaneously) presented as the cause, means of
detection, and possible solution to pressing global problems and human needs. The
governance of science itself has evolved over the last few decades to begin to accommodate
some of the public concerns that reflect this disruptive power. Yet science governance
struggles continually to be adaptive and responsive to public values, to the social and ethical
impacts of science, and to the inherent complexity and uncertainty of natural and social
systems in late modernity (Beck, 2000; Felt and Wynne, 2007; Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1993).
Such difficulties are exemplified by high profile controversies ranging from resistance to
emerging technologies such as genetically modified crops in the 1990s through to recent
public questioning of climate science and the ‘Climategate’ affair.
A dominant institutional response to these challenges, and to associated questions of
public trust in science, has been to open up governance processes and practices to a wider and
more inclusive range of public inputs, notably through the creation of new spaces of ‘public
dialogue’ (Bulkeley and Mol, 2003; Chilvers, 2008; Irwin, 2006). Central to this ‘new’
scientific governance has been the rush to develop, design, market and professionalise
methods and techniques of public engagement and their evaluation (see, for example, Rowe
and Frewer, 2000; Beierle and Konisky, 2001). In response to an emerging orthodoxy, critical
public engagement studies have begun to problematise the ways in which public dialogue has
been enacted and the effects it has produced (see Chilvers, 2009). Attention has been drawn
to, inter alia: the uneasy alliance between ‘inclusive’ governance approaches and traditional
appeals to ‘sound science’ and expertise (Hagendijk, 2004; Irwin, 2006); framing effects
within dialogue processes which can reinforce existing relations of professional power and
deficit understandings of the public (Wynne, 2006); and analysis on how engagement
processes construct particular kinds of publics that respond to contingent political imaginaries
(Lezaun and Soneryd, 2007; Macnaghten and Guivant, 2011; Michael and Brown, 2005).
Notwithstanding the importance of these studies, this paper makes four distinctive
contributions aimed at notable absences in the literature.
First, there has been a lack of scrutiny on the distinctive ways in which institutional
programmes of public engagement have linked to policy processes and institutional
responses. Evaluation technologies tend to develop universal standards and modes of critique,
predominantly linked to process criteria, yet engagement processes are developed in
particular historical circumstances to respond to distinctive policy questions. In Section 2 we
develop a typology of three ideal-type models of public engagement, and analyse how these
were used across 17 public dialogues on science and technology that have taken place in the
British context, on issues ranging from nanotechnology and stem cell research to the use of
DNA in forensics and geoengineering of climate change. Using this typology we are able to
examine the characteristic features of each, including their linkage to policy outcomes, the
ways in which they construct subject positions and their staging in the innovation process.
Second, while public engagement processes are seen as significant sites for the
democratisation of science, there has been a lack of attention to the substance of public
concerns that emerge from them and their implications for governance. Analyses of what
publics are concerned about and why are almost always limited to views on specific
technologies. Comparative perspectives across different areas of science and innovation are
virtually entirely missing from the literature. In order to address this gap in Section 3 we
present one of the first meta-analyses of public concerns emerging across the 17 public
dialogues on science and technology. In doing this we distil five cross-cutting public
concerns evident in these dialogues that are fundamentally synoptic concerns about the
governance of science and technology.
Third, existing social scientific analyses of institutional responses to public dialogues
have for the most part tended to ‘black box’ institutions, or have led to general calls for
institutional redesign (although see Bickerstaff et al, 2010). In Section 4 our empirical
analysis moves beyond this to assess the ways in which science and policy institutions are
responsive to the public concerns identified in our meta-analysis of public dialogues. We
develop in particular a deeper understanding of the processes that underlie, constrain and
mediate these responses. Our analysis is based on in-depth interviews with 40 senior staff
from within UK science and policy institutions carried out in early 2011.
Fourth, in our concluding section we set out a prospective agenda for the future of
science governance, taking into account our research and analysis coupled with a recognition
that formal invited public engagements are only one of many routes through which public
issues can be articulated and public values accounted for in the governance of science.
Indeed, we advocate the need to move from viewing public engagement as an end in itself
towards a broader appreciation of the science governance system as a whole. In adopting this
systemic perspective we consider what it means to develop anticipatory, reflexive and
inclusive forms of governing in the public interest.
2. Models of Science Governance
2.1 The Sciencewise Expert Resource Centre
In the UK, the Sciencewise Expert Resource Centre (or Sciencewise-ERC), funded by the
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, has been an integral part of scientific
governance, commissioning and championing public dialogue since 2004. Its birth followed
the demise of the CoPUS Grants Committee, a funding body administered by the Royal
Society and charged with bringing scientific issues to the attention of the wider community
and promoting a more scientifically literate society. The idioms of CoPUS lay in one-way
forms of science communication and deficit models of public understanding. In its place,
Sciencewise (renamed Sciencewise-ERC after 2007) spoke to the new discourse of two-way
dialogue and public engagement (on the ‘new scientific governance’, see Irwin, 2006).
In substantive terms, Sciencewise-ERC has constructed and guided a number of dialogue
projects which aim to open up the competing values, ethics, issues and interests associated
with new science and technology, to provide social intelligence to policy-makers, and to help
inform choices and trajectories. The Sciencewise-ERC has in addition fulfilled a normative
role in encouraging the appetite for public dialogue within government and its agencies,
through the provision of opportunities for training and networking, and through guidance on
best practice. The Sciencewise-ERC thus can be seen as a central pillar in the UK
Government’s ambitions for a society in which the public, the broad science community and
policy makers feel comfortable with the direction taken by science and technology.
2.2 Three models of dialogue
The 17 dialogue projects that Sciencewise-ERC has co-sponsored since 2005 (and up to
December 2010 when the research took place) have been designed to cover a wide range of
issues associated with novel science and technology but also to inform policy processes. In
our research, we developed a coding strategy to describe the different ways in which public
dialogue was envisaged in these projects. Partly, we adopted a grounded theory bottom-up
approach based on a close reading of reports from the 17 dialogue events as published on the
Sciencewise-ERC website (see Partly, we
adopted and extended a set of distinctions developed by Roger Pielke (2007) on the different
ways in which scientific advice can inform the policy process. Whereas Pielke’s approach is
concerned with the different roles of the scientist in decision-making our concern lay with the
demarcation of different models of public engagement. Whereas Pielke’s typology includes
four ideal types – the ‘pure scientist’, the ‘science arbiter’, the ‘issue advocate’ and the
‘honest broker’ our analysis extended this typology to include an ‘Upstream’ model of
public engagement. The three models of engagement derived – namely the ‘Upstream’
model, ‘Honest Broker’ model, and ‘Issue Advocate’ model – are summarised in Table 1 and
described in the remainder of this section.
Table 1. Three models of public engagement in policy-making
Public Engagement Processes
Model of Public
Stage in
Topic of
Subject Position
Status of
Policy Goal
Upstream Model
Honest Broker Model
Issue Advocate Model
The ‘Upstream’ model of public engagement (Table 1) became established in dialogues
where the objective was to engage publics in exploratory conversations on a range of issues
and questions posed by science and technology at a relatively early stage in the innovation
process. The focus of these dialogues was on scrutinizing the ways in which the emerging
science and technology is imagined by social actors, exploring future possible worlds, the
social and ethical issues associated with them, and deliberating on the factors that shape
public concern, hope and possibility. Such dialogue events were tied loosely to specific
policy goals and outcomes with participants being constructed as exploratory subjects’ who
developed novel identities and positions through the dialogue itself. In our coding analysis
each of the 17 dialogue processes were attributed to one or more model of public
engagement, as presented below in Table 2 (below). This shows the dialogues that took on
the ‘Upstream’ model to include those on specific areas of emergent science and technology
(Synthetic Biology, Nanodialogues, Industrial Biotechnology, Geoengineering), as well as
projects that explored possible future directions in science in general (Science Horizons,
Community X-Change).
The ‘Honest Broker’ model of public engagement (Table 1) was enacted in dialogues
where the articulation of different policy options associated with a particular branch of
science was already mature and social/ethical dilemmas already apparent. In these dialogues,
which had closer links to policy outcomes and were less exploratory, the overriding aim was
to foster public deliberation in weighing up of the pros and costs of different courses of
action, as well as the articulation of the conditions, if any, under which different policy
options were seen as acceptable. These dialogues tended to position publics as ‘reflective’
subjects who contemplate the conditions of whether and how to proceed with a controversial
domain of science. As shown in Table 2 (below) the ‘Honest Broker’ model was favoured for
health-related questions, where the aim was one of helping sponsors to determine whether,
and under what conditions, to fund and move forward with specific and ethically-challenging
research (Animals containing Human Material, Hybrids and Chimeras, Stem Cells). Other
dialogues adhering to this model centred on possible scientific developments in the use of
drugs for human enhancement (Drugsfutures), those that pose new dilemmas for the use and
management of information (Forensic Use of DNA), through to deliberation on values,
benefits and trade-offs in relation to future land use scenarios in the context of climate change
(Landscape and Ecosystem Futures).
The ‘Issue Advocate’ model of public engagement (Table 1) became established in
dialogues where there existed an already formed and agreed policy goal. The function of such
dialogues was not to deliberate on these goals but rather on the conditions under which they
could be realized and the different ways of achieving them through better understanding the
views, beliefs and needs of publics. There was much less scope to the explore the framing of
policy goals and discuss alternatives, which meant that publics were most often assumed to
be ‘malleable’ subjects able to bend their views and positions through the provision of
information and argument by the sponsoring institution. As shown in Table 2, this ‘Issue
Advocate’ model was common in dialogues on climate change, responding to the policy goal
of stimulating behaviour change as part of the UK Government’s commitment to legally
binding target of at least an 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Policy-derived
questions shaping the various dialogues included: how to cut emissions at a local level (Low
Carbon Communities Challenge), how to encourage people to change their energy behaviour
(The Big Energy Shift), how to engage representatives of the public in local communities
across the UK to run local deliberative dialogues (Energy 2050 Pathways), how to increase
awareness in students aged fourteen and over of issues of risk in science (Risky Business),
and on how to improve cyber trust (Trustguide).
Table 2. Sciencewise-ERC dialogue activity by model of public engagement
Model of Public Engagement
Dialogue Project
Animals containing human material (2010)
Big energy shift (20082009)
Community X-Change (20052008)
Drugsfutures (20062008)
Energy 2050 pathways (20102011)
Forensic use of DNA (20072008)
Geoengineering (2010)
Hybrids and chimeras (2006)
Industrial biotechnology (2008)
Landscape and ecosystem futures (2011–)
Nanodialogues (20052007)
Low carbon communities challenge (20102011)
Risky business (20052006)
Science horizons (20062007)
Stem cells (20072008)
Synthetic biology (20092010)
Trustguide (20052006)
The three models of engagement identified in this section are ideal types. It is clear that
in practice any one individual dialogue event may subscribe to more than one of these
models. For example, as shown in Table 2, ‘Upstream’ dialogues on Industrial Biotechnology
and Community X-Change also took on aspects of the ‘Issue Advocate’ model, while the
Geoengineering dialogue overlapped with the ‘Honest Broker’ model. The three models of
engagement do nevertheless serve as a useful heuristic to reveal the different functions of
public dialogue in the policy process.
3. A Meta-analysis of Public Concerns
As noted above, there has been little attention drawn to the common issues of concern that
have emerged across public dialogue initiatives and of their cumulative significance for
questions of governance (although see Start, 2010). In this section we analyse key cross-
cutting themes shared across the Sciencewise-ERC dialogues. Again, the analysis is based on
a thematic coding of concerns as presented in published reports of the 17 dialogue events.
Across the dialogues, five cross-cutting themes were found to be central to the structuring of
public responses, and are discussed below.
A key factor shaping people’s attitudes towards science and technology concerned their
assessment of the purpose of the science, and of the motivations of those involved. In whose
interests was the science being developed? Were particular innovations necessary? Were
there alternatives? Medical and health technologies were seen by and large as driven by good
purposes, including that of curing diseases, improving wellbeing and prolonging life.
Research was thus accorded high importance, even when there were acknowledged ethical
dilemmas. For these reasons, the public clearly appreciated their role as ‘Honest Broker’ in
health-related dialogues (Animals Containing Human Material, Hybrids and Chimeras, Stem
Cells), helping to determine whether, and under what conditions, to fund and move forward
with specific and ethically-challenging research. In the Stem Cells dialogue, support for
further advances in the science was seen as conditional on the purposes of the research and
on whether it respects human values: Will it reflect public rather than solely commercial
interests (pages 71–74)? Will it respect individual rights and autonomy (page 70–71)? Will it
focus on serious diseases (pages 64–65)? Similarly, in the Animals Containing Human
Material dialogue, support was similarly premised on the assumption that the aims of the
research would be to improve human health or cure human diseases (page 21). For
‘Upstream’ dialogues (Science Horizons, Synthetic Biology, Nanodialogues, Industrial
Biotechnology), the question of the purposes to which science would be directed was also a
central issue. In the Synthetic Biology dialogue, for example, the motivations of scientists
were deemed to be a key determinant for assuring acceptability. Five questions were seen as
central to public concerns: “What is the purpose of your research? Why are you doing it?
What are you going to gain? What else will it do? How do you know you are right?” (page
85) Given that the science was at an early stage, with clear potential for good and bad,
ensuring that the science would be conducted for good reasons (i.e. in response to societal
needs rather than for short-term gain or for knowledge for its own sake) was viewed as
Trust was a pervasive feature shared across a number of dialogue projects: people rarely
trusted the motives of Government to act in the public interest. This general mistrust was
prominent in ‘Upstream’ dialogues (Synthetic Biology, Nanodialogues, Industrial
Biotechnology), where even at an early stage of research, the direction being undertaken by
science was seen as in danger of being overly directed by private rather than public interests.
This distrust was apparent especially in domains where there was a perceived proximity
between government and industry, most notably in agricultural and industrial biotechnology.
As the report on the Industrial Biotechnology dialogue states: “Profit or anything associated
with industry are viewed with great suspicion and there is little faith that the Government will
effectively resource the control and monitor[ing of] industry” (page 4). Indeed, while the
motives of scientists may be trusted, in general, the motives of government and industry were
not. As Start comments in his review: “The initial public perception of government is of a
regulatory structure that is weak and unreliable, vulnerable to private interests, and
vulnerable to dangerous products slipping through the net” (Start, 2010, page 20). Trust was
also an issue in ‘Issue Advocate’ dialogues, notably on climate change issues where the
science was presented as being conducted for good purposes (e.g. to save the planet) and
where these claims were often disputed by lay participants. In the Big Energy Shift dialogue,
for example, participants expressed a lack of trust that either the Government, or the private
sector, would actually deliver a fair and equitable system to respond to climate change (page
24). In the ‘Honest Broker’ Geoengineering dialogue, there was similar mistrust expressed in
the accuracy and robustness of climate models and projections, and in the extent to which
scientific research could ever truly be independent of the interests and agendas of funding
agencies (page 67). The notable exception was in health-related Honest Broker dialogues
where, alternatively, there was an underlying sense of trust and confidence in regulation,
oversight and in the good intentions of Government (Animals containing Human Material,
Hybrids and Chimeras, Stem Cells).
In a project on public perceptions and sustainability, Macnaghten and Jacobs (1997)
observed that the pronounced fatalism and cynicism that people expressed towards national
and local government was a key barrier to environmental behaviour change. It was further
argued that attempts by government to galvanise community action would depend on their
ability to develop relational mechanisms through which a sense of inclusion and shared
purpose could be established. 10–15 years later, and despite a heightened institutional
rhetoric on inclusion, it is clear that many people still feel they are not included in deciding
what kinds of public science and technology gets funded and for whose interests: i.e. they
feel ‘kept in the dark’. This sense of powerlessness was especially developed in the Synthetic
Biology dialogue, where there was a strong sense that scientists were a closed community that
was difficult to gain access, where technical expertise set scientists apart from the public, and
where it was believed there was a cultural resistance to opening up science to the views and
values of the public (page 41). This was particularly problematic as participants felt
compelled to trust scientists, but ultimately felt powerless to have any control. Similar views
were evident in other ‘Upstream’ and ‘Issue Advocate’ dialogues: in the Industrial
Biotechnology dialogue participants expressed a sense of disaffection from the scientific and
industrial process (pages 21–22); in the Big Energy Shift dialogue, people saw themselves as
relatively powerless in promoting behaviour change, with a sensed lack of leadership and
overall narrative from Government (pages 20–22); and in the Nanodialogues people felt
similarly disaffected, as indicated in some of the dialogues, where one participant
commented, tongue in cheek, on the peculiarity of the dialogue process: “I feel lucky, I feel
like we can make some nanoscule contribution to society” (page 12). While participants
expressed a sense of powerlessness across all models of dialogue activity, across the
‘Upstream’ dialogues powerlessness tended to be expressed as fatalism (an attitude of
resignation in the face of a political economy of science that they have minimal power to
shape), in the ‘Issue Advocate’ dialogues powerlessness was more likely to be expressed as
scepticism (an attitude of doubt to the apparent claims and interests of official institutions),
while in the ‘Honest Broker’ dialogues, powerlessness tended to be an issue only so far as
public interest criteria were seen as unlikely to inform policy decisions.
A long-standing public concern is that research and innovation processes are being
developed at a speed that exceeds their scope for ethical and regulatory oversight (for an
academic treatment of speed, see Bingham, 2008; Stengers, 2000). Examples of this kind of
concern can be seen in the Stem Cells dialogue, about “research being pushed to deliver
applications too soon”, (page v), and in the Synthetic Biology dialogue, about the dangers of
“speeding up nature” (page 83). As can be seen from the examples above there were two
variants. In the ‘Honest Broker’ dialogues this concern tended to be expressed through the
danger of short-term commercial pressures trumping social and ethical considerations, while
in the ‘Upstream’ dialogues this concern was expressed more ontologically, in relation to the
power of emergent science to disrupt and mess with natural orders and processes (for an
extension of this argument, see Macnaghten, 2010). Concerns were also voiced on the
direction science is taking us, and whether this has been adequately considered and
deliberated upon in advance (see also Stirling, 2008; Stirling and Mayer, 2001). These
concerns, chiefly manifest in the ‘Upstream’ dialogues, extend beyond matters of safety and
technical risk to a broader set of social and ethical issues that included: concerns over
unforeseen consequences including controllability and reversibility (Geoengineering, pages
2–4; Synthetic Biology, pages 71–72), impacts on perceived naturalness (Geoengineering,
pages 32–33; Synthetic Biology, pages 39–40); and impacts in terms of fairness and equity
(Geoengineering, pages 58–59). As the Nanodialogues report commented: “Safety was a
sideshow. The real concern was with where companies are taking us” (page 63). The analysis
undertaken in the summary reporting of the Science Horizons dialogue is insightful in
articulating the direction to be taken by science. Future science and technology were viewed
as acceptable to the extent to which they respond to ‘social goods’, namely: better health (a
social good); independence, especially for the elderly (a social good), convenience (a social
good), quality of life (a social good), risks to safety (a social bad), scope for loss of privacy
and autonomy (a social bad), social divisiveness (a social bad) and lack of genuine human
interaction (a social bad) (pages 6–7). While each of the above points requires further
differentiation and expansion, it nevertheless reinforces the observation that public views on
science and technology depend critically on their ‘social constitution’, that is on the
distinctive values and social assumptions that are embedded in their development (Grove-
White et al, 2000).
A final theme concerns lay ethical judgement. A primary consideration was whether
there is a sense of genuine social benefit from publicly funded science. At an individual level,
where the social benefit was high, the public were prepared to accept higher trade-offs. Thus,
in the Stem Cell dialogue, stem cell research was seen as acceptable only in cases where there
existed the potential for very significant medical breakthroughs for the treatment of incurable
diseases. In cases where stem cells were proposed in cosmetic applications or for the
purposes of human enhancement, where the social benefit was seen as low, the research was
seen as less acceptable (page 26). This kind of trade-off is commonplace in the ‘Honest
Broker’ dialogues. A subsidiary consideration was the social distribution of those costs and
benefits. Across many of the dialogues was a concern that the political economy of new
science and technology will disproportionally impact upon vulnerable groups, particularly the
poor, the ill, the unborn and those unable to defend themselves. Concern was expressed that
nanotechnologies would benefit the rich and the powerful, not the poor or the unemployed
(Nanodialogues, page 38); that medical research will be biased towards western and affluent
illnesses rather than those in developing countries (Stem Cells, page 28); that the National
DNA database can be used by governments to further discriminate against ethnic minorities
(Forensic Uses of DNA, page 55); while the use of new drug treatments in the management of
mental health conditions can be seen as a cheap alternative to social and behavioural therapy
(Drugsfutures, page 35). This kind of consideration is again most common in the ‘Honest
Broker’ dialogues. A final consideration was the differing and competing philosophical
perspectives that people used to discuss the ethics of particular scientific and technological
innovations. Start (2010) distinguishes two competing philosophies at work in the dialogues:
a liberal and individualistic set of values and rights pitted against communitarian and
collective values and virtues. Thus, while people were in general positive about the prospects
of new technology to improve convenience, save time and add choice (appealing to liberal
and individualistic values), at the same time they were wary that those same technologies will
erode communities, devalue traditions, and dehumanize relationships (Science Horizons,
pages 6–7). While there was strong concern about the perils of inappropriate drug use from a
collective viewpoint, there was at the same time strong support for individuals to have the
right to make their own decisions (DrugFutures, pages 46–52). While there was strong
support for the use of science and technology to aid national security, publics also spoke up
for rights to privacy and anonymity (Forensic Uses of DNA, pages 34–36).
Even though there was considerable overlap between and across the public dialogues we
can still however identify clear affinities between the kinds of concerns expressed by publics
and the three models of public engagement identified in our typology above. These
relationships are summarised in Table 3 below. It shows how concerns for ‘Upstream’
dialogues tended to be more oriented towards the motivations of scientists and funding bodies
and whether such science was responsive to collective values and respectful to natural orders.
For ‘Honest Broker’ dialogues, where the good intentions of policy-making bodies tended to
be more assured, concern focused on whether ethical and social considerations would
genuinely inform decisions in the face of over-riding commercial pressures. While in the
‘Issue Advocate’ model, the emphasis of concerns was on the legitimacy of the pre-
determined policy goals and their responsiveness to public input.
Table 3. Public concerns across three models of public engagement
Public Concerns about Science Governance
Model of Public
Speed and
Ethics, trade-
offs and equity
Upstream Model
Were the
of scientists
good and
Would public
input have the
power to shape
Would the
science respond
to ‘social
goods’? Would
it respect
natural orders?
Would individual
and market-
driven values
collective values?
Honest Broker Model
Did the
respect to
basic human
Would social
and ethical
inform policy
Would short-
term corporate
pressures over-
ride social/
Would the
impact of the
science unfairly
impact on
Issue Advocate Model
Were the pre-
goals of policy
legitimate and
Were the
goals of
open to
challenge by
public input
pressures direct
science at the
expense of
social/ ethical
Was the social
benefit promised
by the science
sufficient to over-
ride unreflected
social/ ethical
4. Institutional Responses
We now assess the extent to which UK science and policy institutions have been responsive
to the substantive public concerns about science governance identified in Section 3. The
analysis is based on evidence from 40 in-depth interviews with senior staff from 23 UK-
based science organisations.1 Given the sensitive nature of the interviews, and to encourage
1 All interviews were conducted between January and March 2011 and lasted between half-an-hour and one
hour. Typically two interviews were conducted per organisation, mostly with senior decision-makers (for
respondents to be candid and open in their responses, the use of verbatim quotes was not
explicitly sought. Interview transcripts were subject to full qualitative coding analysis in
order to establish the key conditions and processes that mediate institutional responses.
Mediating influences were established through a grounded analysis of interviewees’ talk in
conjunction with explanations drawn from the literature. These analytic coding categories are
now presented by taking each of the five main areas of public concern in turn whilst paying
attention to the different organisational settings of the interviewees (see Table 4).
Table 4. The distribution of interviewees in relation to organisation type
Organisation type
Number of
Number of
Government departments
Science funders
Other government agencies (including local government)
Businesses (those involved in technology transfer)
Learned Societies
Non-governmental organisations
The majority of interview respondents did not recognise public concerns associated with
the purposes of science. Across all organisational contexts the good purpose of science was
automatically assumed and presented as self-evident. Respondents found it difficult to relate
individual research projects and programmes to outcomes of limited public value. For
example, agricultural biotechnologies, which are often viewed by publics as offering less
benefits and more impacts to society that healthcare technologies say, were seen as serving
the public good, particularly in relation to future food security. This dominant institutional
response is largely out of step with the public concerns presented in Section 3 and identified
as an important source for public unease (for variants of this argument see Marris et al, 2001;
Kearnes and Wynne, 2009; Macnaghten et al, 2005). Widespread social concerns over the
underlying motives of environmental and agricultural technological developments, for
example, were simply dismissed by some interview respondents as that of ‘a small number of
vocal people’. While there are many possible explanations for this lack of institutional
reflection, a key aspect identified in interviews was the prevalence of unreflexive science-
policy cultures and the predominance of technocratic organizational structures, which
previous studies have shown to be a dominant characteristic of British science institutions
(Wynne, 1993; Irwin, 1995). The governance structures within most organisations were
dominated by experts and specialists. Technical or policy expertise remained at the forefront
of decision-making. And the science-centred vision of those leading these organisations
determined decision-making processes. Organisational structures, embedded in deeply rooted
science-policy cultures, appeared to be closing down institutional reflection on the
example, the Chair, CEO, Director of Strategy/Policy, or senior civil servant). 38 in-depth interviews were
conducted over telephone, one interview was conducted face-to-face, and one via email correspondence (due to
limited availability of the respondent). Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed for analytical purposes
(for further details see TNS-BMRB, 2011)!
conditions, framings and pre-commitments that were shaping science and innovation
practices (Wynne, 1993). For example, in interviews respondents reflected very little on the
possibility that wealth creation priorities may act to influence individuals to focus on short-
term gain rather than long-term public interest.
Public concerns relating to trust in government were more readily acknowledged by
interview respondents. Close relationships between public funded research and private
interests were recognised as impacting on institutional trust. The dominant response from
most interviewees was to presume that these ambiguities could be managed through
commitments to openness and transparency. This was of particular importance for regulators
and government departments (through opening up access to meetings and advisory
committees, for example) and to research funders (where open data had become an increasing
priority in the wake of Climategate). Interviewees spoke of oversight and organisational
practices, such as time limits on the management of individual research portfolios and
judicial review procedures. Some interviewees in addition placed emphasis on promoting
‘trustworthy behaviours’, by valuing openness, listening skills, keeping commitments and
being willing to admit doubt. At another point in the interview schedule, when reflecting on
the key strategic issues shaping science governance, many respondents highlighted the
coupling of research with wealth creation and the increasing commercialization of science,
which others have identified as key ‘driving forces’ shaping science governance (e.g. Felt and
Wynne, 2007; Pestre, 2008). This was seen to be driving closer collaboration with business,
commercialization of research, developments in knowledge transfer, the impact agenda, and
so on. Yet the possible connection between these driving forces and questions of institutional
trust was recognized as a source of tension by interviewees across all organizational settings.
These complex issues of trust, then, were predominantly recognised as being tractable in a
procedural sense rather than more structural in nature (see Wynne, 2006). Responses did not
extend to addressing deeper public concerns evident across the Sciencewise-ERC dialogues
over the increasing role of private interests in directing science and the need for science to
address questions of the common good (see Felt and Wynne, 2007).
All respondents recognised public feelings of powerlessness and the need for inclusive
governance processes. Most noted existing attempts to address these concerns through forms
of public dialogue. Dialogue processes that had clear goals and a clear decision context were
cited as having most impact on policy in this regard. However, more generally, public
engagement activities were seen to have had marginal impact on core business, with key
messages often being externalised by organisations at the expense of prompting internal
institutional reflection. Most respondents saw a limited role for active public involvement in
organisational decision-making (such as over science funding decisions) but emphasised the
need to feed in public views at strategic levels of science policy and the overall direction of
travel. While this indicates receptiveness to upstream models of engagement (Wilsdon and
Willis, 2004) the dominant rationale for this expressed in interviews was one of technological
acceptance rather than ensuring that public values substantively shape the purposes, speed
and direction of science, exposing a dominant instrumental tendency also identified in other
analyses (see Stirling, 2008). Organisations where public engagement had produced more
impact on decision-making generally had a supportive CEO, a decentralised decision-making
culture, a culture of risk taking, and an appetite to embed focused engagement activity in
policy departments rather than communications or science in society directorates. At the time
of interviews in 2011 a major dynamic was the global recession and widespread economic
constraints, which was writ large in discussions of powerlessness and inclusion. Most
organisations had begun focusing on ‘core business’. Budget cuts and changing Government
priorities were creating pressures to close down deliberation and public engagement
activities. Economic constraints were however seen by some interviewees as an opportunity,
offering potentials for interdisciplinary and collaborative practices, and new routes through
which public values can be accounted for in the governance of science. This illustrates how
agencements that are often simplistically assumed to be forces of closure can simultaneously
act as sites of emergence and ‘overflow’ (Callon et al, 2007).
When considering the speed of research and innovation processes there was widespread
acknowledgement that regulation generally lags behind innovation. Some respondents
questioned the premise of this public concern however — specifically whether technologies
by definition move on at such a pace that inhibits oversight. Any such ‘lag’ was put down to
science and policy institutions paying insufficient attention to developments as they are
progressing and failing to create adequate space for discussion of the implications of
technological developments. Representatives of regulators themselves admitted that their
attention was predominantly focused on the ‘here and now’. One respondent noted that ‘we
can only regulate what’s out there’. This narrowed the focus of regulators on to downstream
risks and impacts rather than exploring the human needs and purposes that drive science (see
Macnaghten et al, 2005). Directionality of science and technological development (Leach et
al, 2010) was not seen as a major issue for reflection, in much the same way as the above
discussion of purposes.
With respect to ethics, trade-offs and inequity all interview respondents were asked to
reflect on whether the culture of science discourages scientists from reflecting on the ethical
considerations and uncertainties inherent in forms of science and innovation. While ethical
reflection was not emphasised as much in interviews, there was a general feeling that
scientific cultures and practices had become more open and prepared to admit uncertainties.
Organisational cultures (see also Argyris and Schön, 1996; Fletcher, 2008; Guy, 2006;
Schein, 1995) were highlighted as being crucial in mediating this. For example closed
cultures were seen to create an ethical distance between scientists and societal interests and to
lead to the normalisation of ethically sensitive activities. Amongst organisations that provide
leadership to the scientific community (such as learned societies and research councils) there
was an effort to help create a ‘climate of recognition’ through awards, structures, and
statements of principles for scientists to engage or act ethically. In reflecting on these issues
some respondents noted that the UK Government’s spending review and wider commercial
drivers were not helping scientists to reflect openly on their work. Rather, they encouraged
institutions to demonstrate the economic value of research, through a language of success and
growth: making it difficult for researchers to be seen to detract from overriding purposes of
science-led progress (see also Irwin, 2006).
In sum, the reflections of interviewees and the stated responses of UK science and policy
institutions only partially addressed, and in some cases dismissed, the five main public
concerns about the governance of science identified in our analysis of the Sciencewise-ERC
dialogues. Concerns over the purposes and direction of science and innovation were largely
denied by institutional actors in interview, while public concerns about trust, powerlessness
and the speed of scientific innovation where acknowledged and responded to in a procedural
or instrumental fashion thus side-stepping some of the underlying tensions and sources of
public unease.
The analysis in this section has provided insights into the underlying processes and key
mediating influences that help explain institutional responses, as identified in interviews and
in connection to existing literatures. These themes are synthesized in Table 5, namely:
science-policy cultures, organisational structures/cultures, leadership, the economic climate,
commitments to economic progress, and openness and transparency. The dominant dynamic
across the institutional settings discussed by respondents has been for these influences to
close down reflection on public values and concerns about the governance of science and
technology (as shown in the left-hand column of Figure 4). However, it is also clear that
these same mediating factors have, in some instances but to a much lesser degree, prompted
reflexive openings within institutions and science governance (see the right-hand column of
Table 5).2 Taken as a whole, the grounded perspectives of institutional actors offer new
insights on the patterning of institutional responses to stated public concerns about the
governance of science.
Table 5. Key influences on institutional reflection and accountability in relation to public
concerns about the governance of science and technology.
Mediating factor
Potential to close down reflection
on public values
Potential to open up reflection on
public values
Science-policy culture
Expert-led structures and routines
can privilege scientific rationality to
the exclusion of other perspectives
(including publics)
Deliberative cultures can emphasise
reflexive learning and
responsiveness to other
perspectives (including publics).
Centralised, elitist, inward looking,
risk-averse science organisations
can routinise closed ways of
working and limit reflection
Innovative, creative, experimental
and risk taking science
organisations can foster a culture of
openness and open scientific
Technocratic leaders can resist
change as they have considerable
influence over the extent to which
public values and the public interest
are taken into account
Top-level leadership and
commitment to public engagement
can embed public engagement,
culture change and taking account
of the public interest
Economic climate
Economic constraints can lead to
retrenchment and a focus on core
business, limit public engagement,
and close down the framing of
Economic constraints can promote
collaboration and interdisciplinary
working, and create new routes
through which public values can be
(wealth creation)
The tight coupling of research and
wealth creation places increasing
emphasis on outcomes and the
instrumental purposes of research,
closing down reflection about wider
public values
The tight coupling of research and
wealth creation can generate
possibilities for open innovation
and experiments in reconfiguring
relations between science,
innovation and society
Openness and
An instrumental, functional and
procedural drive towards open
access and transparency can
undermine institutional potentials
for listening to public values and
social purposes.
Commitments to openness and
transparency can form an essential
part of an integrated organisational
strategy for governing in the public
5. The Future of Science Governance
2 Although much less evident across the dataset, all illustrations of how mediating influences might open up
institutional reflection in the right-hand column of Table 5 were touched upon in at least one interview - apart
from the theme of science-policy culture, the illustration for which is drawn exclusively from relevant literature
(see Wynne, 1993; Felt and Wynne, 2007).!!!
In the analysis presented above we highlighted five spheres of public concern that
appear to be commonplace, that raise significant questions for the future governance of
science, and that are being only partially addressed by UK science and policy institutions. We
developed understandings of the mediating influences that shape institutional responses and
of how these both constrain and, on occasions, open up reflection on public values. In the
remaining discussion we draw across the different elements of our analysis to consider the
implications for future science governance. In particular we argue for a more systemic
perspective on science governance that moves beyond a focus on procedural or instrumental
‘fixes’ to build anticipatory and reflexive forms of governing in the public interest. We then
outline a programme for a critical social science on the future of science governance.
5.1 Governing in the public interest
The Sciencewise-ERC dialogues have proved to be an important analytic resource in this
paper in establishing cross-cutting public concerns about science governance. They also
represent what has become a defining form of science governance practice over the past
decade associated with a relative shift in emphasis from public understanding of science to
public engagement with science and its subsequent ‘upstreaming’ in the UK and many other
western democracies. The Sciencewise-ERC model of small group micro-invited public
deliberation - or so called ‘mini publics’ - is a particular one in the wider public engagement
landscape (see Chilvers, 2010). Yet in line with the need to attend to the construction and
productive dimensions of new governance approaches (Irwin, 2006), we have shown in
Section 2 how this seemingly narrow technology of participation has taken on different
forms, constructed different subject positions and definitions of the issues at stake, at
different stages of the innovation process.
Our analysis thus suggests a need for policy-makers, commissioning bodies and social
scientists alike to engage more reflexively with what we have termed ‘Upstream’, ‘Honest
Broker’ and ‘Issue Advocate’ models. For example, when it comes to upstream processes
stated public concerns suggest a need for more deliberate consideration of political economic
dimensions, the underlying motivations of science and scientists, and the potential for new
science to disrupt natural orders. Honest broker type dialogues should show awareness of the
framing effects and constraints on feeding public inputs into governance processes associated
with more established policy issues. Whereas issue advocate engagement processes face the
challenges of reflecting on and opening up deliberation to the pre-commitments that define
policy goals and taken-for-granted assumptions about institutional responsibilities and trust.
Notwithstanding these specific insights, an underlying message from the current analysis is
the need for all three models of dialogue to be reflexively attentive to the conditions and
processes that open up and constrain institutional responsiveness to the outputs of public
dialogues (as outlined in Section 4).
Having said this, an important insight of our analysis is that efforts to deepen the role of
public engagement in bringing about institutional reflection will not be straightforward, nor
can innovations in public dialogue be regarded as a complete response to the challenges of
governing complex and inherently uncertain areas of science and technology. That the stated
public concerns identified in Section 3 were most often not acknowledged or being taken up
in institutional responses identified in Section 4 shows that forces of closure were all too
apparent. While the timing of our study during a period of economic downturn and austerity
was an important influence, more durable forces of closure were also significant, not least
ingrained science-policy cultures. In drawing across the elements of our analysis, it would be
wrong to simplistically read these findings in terms of the limited ‘impact’ or failed influence
of public participation on science policy-making, as is so often the case in established
evaluation criteria and frameworks (e.g. Rowe and Frewer, 2000; Beierle and Konisky,
2001). The reflections of interviewees in Section 4 instead highlight science governance as a
complex interplay of multiple actors, intermediaries and other influences in a co-produced
and interconnected system. Within this, rather than exclusively focusing on formal
institutionalized spaces of public dialogue per se respondents spoke of many different routes
through which public values can be heard and accounted for in science governance.
These reflections of interviewees concur with an evolving landscape of emerging
innovations in science governance practice, some of which have been prompted by recent
science controversies (see Chilvers and Macnaghten, 2011), including: new forms of citizen
science and public engagement in science such as crowdsourcing, distributed innovation, and
open source movements (see Ekins and Williams, 2010); novel science advisory structures
with commitments to transparency and openness (see Grove-White, 2001); forms of self
regulation and voluntary reporting for science and scientists (see European Commission,
2008); and increasing moves towards open data and open science, for example in areas
implicated in recent controversies over climate science (see Kleiner, 2011). These emergent
governance responses are indicative of a wider shift in institutional rhetoric and practice from
a focus on public dialogue and engagement in responding to issues of public trust in science,
towards a broader appreciation of the science governance system as a whole in which public
engagement forms a specific and important part. However, while this shift is at times
apparent, more readily it remains opaque within a myriad of initiatives and techniques that
remain disjointed.
Recent scholarship has attempted to integrate such initiatives into a coherent conceptual
framework. Predominantly within the nanotechnology domain these endeavours have aimed
to develop models of upstream public engagement aimed at exploring the social and ethical
implications much earlier on in the innovation process, when it is still possible to shape the
development of the emerging technology (Macnaghten et al, 2005); to move the debate from
a narrow focus on risk governance, where the questions are reduced to ones of risk and
safety, to ‘innovation governance’ which emphasises ‘upstream questions’ of the sort
routinely raised by publics in dialogues (Felt and Wynne, 2007); to develop new forms of
ethical reflection and societal responsiveness within the scientific community (Fisher et al,
2006); and to integrate such elements within overarching frameworks of responsible
innovation, anticipatory governance and real-time technology assessment (Barben et al, 2008;
Guston and Sarewitz, 2002; von Schomberg 2011). Narratives and frameworks of responsible
innovation have gained particular policy relevance in the last few years with initiatives being
developed in the UK, Norway, the Netherlands and in particular the European Union, where
Responsible Science and Innovation will feature as a cross-cutting issue under the ‘Horizon
2020’ programme (Owen et al. 2012 forthcoming; Stilgoe et al. 2012 forthcoming; von
Schomberg 2012 forthcoming).
One danger inherent in current initiatives is that they may accommodate alternative
governance arrangements in the form of a set of procedural arrangements, thus bracketing out
reflection on the key mediating factors that structure institutional responses in real-world
circumstances, as set out in Table 5. Without such recognition new science governance
innovations may be reduced to a new wave of procedures that could become used by
policymakers for instrumental ends. An alternative is to build on such initiatives to move
towards an institutionally reflexive approach aimed at ‘governing in the public interest’. Even
though anticipation, adaptation, deliberation and reflexivity remain core dimensions and
frameworks for science governance, properly accounting for public values depends on
reflexivity in a radical social relational sense and not just merely a procedural one.
Wynne (1993) defines reflexivity within the science governance system as a “process of
identifying, and critically examining (thus rendering open to change), the basic, pre-analytic
assumptions that frame knowledge-commitments” (page 324). In our analysis we found that
it was precisely such self-reflective and relational forms of reflexivity that are routinely and
systematically closed down by prevailing science-policy cultures, whether about the
conditions that mediate science governance or about the diverse assemblages that constitute
definitions of the public issues at stake. At a time of austerity and constraint, it becomes ever
more urgent to reconfigure science governance in ways that set out to be deliberately
reflexive; to imagine, prompt and shape transformative and reflexive forms of learning in
science governance systems (Felt and Wynne, 2007; Chilvers, 2012).
5.2 Critical social science for science governance
The analysis presented in this paper raises challenges and opportunities for critical social
science. There is the need for further research into the cross-cutting public concerns
identified in this paper, which are not about reactions to particular technologies per se but
rather how science in general is governed in real world circumstances. This raises complex
analytical questions over the nature of these concerns, the ways in which they come to be
articulated in public engagement processes, and the substantive contribution this offers for a
democratic politics (see Callon et al, 2009; Marres, 2007). There is scope for further
reflection in differentiating models of public engagement and the kinds of citizenship offered
(building on the typology offered in Table 1).
In attempting to open up the black box of institutional responses to public concerns on
the governance of science, our analysis has developed insights into the influences that
mediate these processes (as summarised in Table 5). While in-depth in nature, our interviews
were conducted broadly across a number of organisations, which limits the insights that we
can draw about the relative importance of particular institutional settings, cultures, routines,
and practices in opening up and closing down reflection on public values. Detailed
longitudinal ethnographic studies within institutions are therefore essential in developing
deeper understandings of the underlying processes that mediate and govern the governance of
science and technology (see Bijker et al, 2009, for one such ethnographic study). Such work
can begin to establish what conditions are necessary to open up institutional reflection about
the public value(s) of science, and institutional pre-commitments relating to them, and how
this varies across different national and transnational science-policy cultures.
A programme of critical social science for science governance also needs to be
constructive and engaged, grounded in collaborative interactions with governance actors and
science-policy institutions, in the spirit of collective experimentation (Felt and Wynne, 2007).
As noted above, Macnaghten et al. (2005) have outlined such a programme for social science
in working interactively to shape the development of emerging technologies in ‘real-time’.
The findings of this paper,lead us to suggest that the actual mechanisms and innovations in
science governance themselves – be they new forms of public dialogue through to emerging
frameworks for responsible innovation – should be subject to similar forms of real-time
anticipatory reflection and reflexivity: about their underlying purposes, innovation
trajectories, social and ethical implications, possible inequalities and so on (see Chilvers,
2012 for an elaboration of this argument). This clarifies further roles for critical social
science in working interactively with science-policy to imagine, shape and experiment with
anticipatory, adaptive and inclusive systems of governing in the public interest. We have
shown that a key challenge in doing this will be to keep the analyst’s eyes open, and open up
eyes of others, to the pre-commitments, driving forces and mediating influences that close
down institutional reflection on public values and concerns about the governance of science.
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The combination of non-fungible token (NFT) with paintings, music, games, videos and other forms of creative content is an innovation to protect the copyright of authors. It digitizes physical works with unique labels. At present, the NFT industry is blooming in the area of digital collections in China, attracting increasingly more artists, art collectors and platform enterprises to interact. However, the NFT digital collection platform is facing challenges and growth limitations. This study adopts the theory framework of responsible innovation. Through semi-structured interview and secondary document review, it analyzes the positive and negative effects of China’s NFT digital collections alongside technological, economical, ethical and social dimensions. The paper proposes four development paths to achieve responsible innovation of this emerging new business. Further discussion links NFT with open innovation dynamics, alongside areas for future research.
... Nonetheless, the theme here chimes with a number of other studies. Some describe a 'technoscientific viewpoint' emerging from interviews with science policymakers, a perspective that involves subjecting and apparently reducing ideological or value choices to complex technical decisions (Macnaghten & Chilvers, 2014;Smallman, 2020;Wynne, 1993Wynne, , 2001. 8 From a different angle, Smith-Doerr and Vardi (2015) describe the process of 'purposive decoupling', by which practicing scientists distance themselves from ethics rules and instruction, often through the use of humour. ...
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An anthropogenic global catastrophic risk is a human-induced risk that threatens sustained and wide-scale loss of life and damage to civilisation across the globe. In order to understand how new research on governance mechanisms for emerging technologies might assuage such risks, it is important to ask how perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes towards the governance of global catastrophic risk within the research community shape the conduct of potentially risky research. The aim of this study is to deepen our understanding of emerging technology research culture as it relates to global catastrophic risks, and to shed new light on how new research governance mechanisms might be developed. We analyse in-depth interviews with leading AI and biotech researchers both from universities and the private sector. We develop new insights in terms of four salient themes. First, ‘engineering mindset’, which highlights the premium placed by many interviewees on pursuing interesting research about the physical world for its own sake. Second, ‘self-government’, which looks at how self-regulation of technological development currently occurs. Third, ‘pure incentives’, focussing on how career and other incentives shapes research. Fourth, ‘norms and persuasion’, which examines the role of moral considerations in guiding the research choices of scientists. We end by considering the implications of these findings for future research on governance of anthropogenic global catastrophic risk.
Purpose This paper aims to look at the implementation of project-funded research governance and its potential to induce organisational learning on responsible research and innovation (RRI). This paper analysed what types of organisational learning and change can take place within organisations of an Europe-funded project and to what extent. This paper examined whether and how change occurs and how it is shaped and co-produced with other orderings. Design/methodology/approach The paper is based on materials and evidence collected while working on the internal evaluation of a Horizon 2020-funded project. Analysis of the results of the mixed methods evaluation design was used to characterise occurrences of organisational learning and change. Findings The authors identified different forms of learning (single-loop learning, double-loop learning, reflexive and reflective learning and situational learning). The extent of learning that could lead to long-lasting organisational change was limited. This was due to the project-based and organisational design, the key-based definition of RRI and the indeterminacy of what constitutes learning and change – both at the level of funding and performing the project. For organisational change to occur, the authors argue for governance mechanisms based on reflexive learning that consider a range of structural conditions and measures. Originality/value Organisational learning plays an important role in change processes, which has so far been given too little consideration concerning the governance and implementation of RRI through project-based funding. The authors argue for a restructuring of governance and funding mechanisms to create more space for reflexivity and learning.
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O objetivo deste artigo é apresentar e discutir a governança da ciência, o que ela engloba e quais os desafios que hoje são mais importantes em âmbitos nacional e global. O tema é abordado sob duas dimensões: governança estrita, que examina os cânones internos do funcionamento da ciência; e governança ampliada, que olha para as interfaces e interações da ciência com a sociedade. Sobretudo, discute-se o que está mudando nessas dimensões e quais os impactos e iniciativas sobre as “instituições da ciência”. Temas como ciência aberta, vieses de priorização e seleção, indicadores de qualidade, engajamento social, pesquisa orientada a missão, dentre outros, são discutidos como “espírito do tempo” e seus efeitos – de mão dupla – sobre a governança estrita e ampliada da ciência. Essa discussão é estendida para o Brasil em seus 200 anos de Independência, colocando alguns dos desafios que teremos que enfrentar.
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Linking environmental sustainability with poverty reduction and social justice, and making science and technology work for the poor, have become central practical, political and moral challenges of our times. These must be met in a world of rapid, interconnected change in environments, societies and economies, and globalised, fragmented governance arrangements. Yet despite growing international attention and investment, policy attempts often fail. Why is this, and what can be done about it? How might we understand and address emergent threats from epidemic disease, or the challenges of water scarcity in dryland India? In the context of climate change, how might seed systems help African farmers meet their needs, and how might appropriate energy strategies be developed? This book lays out a new 'pathways approach' to address sustainability challenges such as these in today's dynamic world. Through an appreciation of dynamics, complexity, uncertainty, differing narratives and the values-based aims of sustainability, the pathways approach allows us to see how some approaches are dominant, even though they do not produce the desired results, and how to create successful alternative 'pathways' of responding to the challenges we face. As well as offering new ways of thinking about sustainability, the book also suggests a series of practical ways forward - in tools and methods, forms of political engagement, and styles of knowledge-making and communication. Throughout the book, the practicalities of the pathways approach are illustrated using four case studies: water in dryland India, agricultural seeds in Africa, responses to epidemic disease and energy systems/climate change. Published in association with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). © M. Leach, I. Scoones and A. Stirling, 2010. All rights reserved.
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2.1 Introduction Few would disagree that science and innovation should be undertaken responsibly. "Responsible innovation" intuitively feels right in sentiment, as an ideal or aspiration. It has positive, constructive overtones, where science and innovation are directed at, and undertaken towards, socially desirable and socially acceptable ends, with connotations of trust and integrity. However, in reality, it lacks definition and clarity, both in concept and practice: What might it involve? Who might it involve? When might it be applied? In this chapter we explore these questions, proposing a framework for responsible innovation and highlighting some examples of its translation into practice. Before doing this we first need to provide some context. Why is there a need for a framework for responsible innovation, and what are the deficits of our current approach to innovation governance? In this chapter we will begin by emphasizing that science and innovation have not only produced understanding, knowledge, and value (economic, social, or otherwise), but also questions, dilemmas, and unintended (and sometimes undesirable) impacts. This is well understood. Some impacts, such as those associated with the financial crisis of 2008, have been both profound and global in nature, see Muniesa and Lenglet, Chapter 8. They have highlighted inefficiencies, and even failures, in the principle of regulation by market choice in liberal economies, which struggles, Responsible Innovation, First Edition. Edited by
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I provide a vision and definition of Responsible Research and Innovation and propose a broad framework for its implementation under Research and Innovation schemes around the world. I make the case that RRI should be understood as a strategy of stakeholders to become mutual responsive to each other and anticipate research and innovation outcomes underpinning the "grand challenges" of our time for which they share > responsibility.> Research and Innovation processes need to become more responsive and adaptive to these grand challenges. This implies, among other, the introduction of broader foresight and impact assessments for new technologies beyond their anticipated market-benefits and risks. Social benefits of new technologies need to take into account widely shared public values. This implies a paradigm shift in innovation policy, moving away from an emphasis on key technologies towards issue and mission oriented policies. Background information can be found on:
Controversies over such issues as nuclear waste, genetically modified organisms, asbestos, tobacco, gene therapy, avian flu, and cell phone towers arise almost daily as rapid scientific and technological advances create uncertainty and bring about unforeseen concerns. The authors of Acting in an Uncertain World argue that political institutions must be expanded and improved to manage these controversies, to transform them into productive conversations, and to bring about "technical democracy." They show how "hybrid forums"—in which experts, non-experts, ordinary citizens, and politicians come together—reveal the limits of traditional delegative democracies, in which decisions are made by quasi-professional politicians and techno-scientific information is the domain of specialists in laboratories. The division between professionals and laypeople, the authors claim, is simply outmoded. The authors argue that laboratory research should be complemented by everyday experimentation pursued in the real world, and they describe various modes of cooperation between the two. They explore a range of concrete examples of hybrid forums that have dealt with sociotechnical controversies including nuclear waste disposal in France, industrial waste and birth defects in Japan, a childhood leukemia cluster in Woburn, Massachusetts, and Mad Cow Disease in the United Kingdom. They discuss the implications for political decision making in general, and they describe a "dialogic" democracy that enriches traditional representative democracy. To invent new procedures for consultation and representation, they suggest, is to contribute to an endless process that is necessary for the ongoing democratization of democracy.
For scientists seeking to play a positive role in policy and politics and contribute to the sustainability of the scientific enterprise, scientists have choices in what role they play. This book is about understanding this choice. Rather than prescribing what course of action each scientist ought to take, the book aims to identify a range of options. Using examples from a range of scientific controversies, The Honest Broker challenges us all - scientists, politicians and citizens - to think carefully about how best science can contribute to policy-making and a healthy democracy.
This article contributes to a more reflexive mode of research on public engagement with science-related issues through presenting an in-depth qualitative study of the actors that mediate science-society interactions, their roles and relationships, and the nature of learning and reflexivity in relation to public dialogue. A mapping framework is developed to describe the roles and relations of actors mediating public dialogue on science and technology in Britain. Learning within public dialogue networks is shown to be instrumental only, crowding out potentials for reflexive and relational learning. This calls for renewed critical social science research alongside more deliberately reflexive learning relating to participatory governance of science and technology that is situated, interactive, public, and anticipatory.
In this article we argue that nanotechnology represents an extraordinary opportunity to build in a robust role for the social sciences in a technology that remains at an early, and hence undetermined, stage of development. We examine policy dynamics in both the United States and United Kingdom aimed at both opening up, and closing down, the role of the social sciences in nanotechnologies. We then set out a prospective agenda for the social sciences and its potential in the future shaping of nanotechnology research and innovation processes. The emergent, undetermined nature of nanotechnologies calls for an open, experimental, and interdisciplinary model of social science research.