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Building Bridges between Europe and North America in Science Policy

bridges vol. 24, December 2009 / Pielke's Perspective

by Roger A. Pielke, Jr.

pielke_r_new_small.jpgEvery two years since 2000 the Gordon Research Conferences (GRC) has held a research conference on Science and Technology Policy.  The meeting has evolved to become a leading forum for a diverse set of academics and others interested in science and technology policy (or STP) to come together to discuss research in STP as well as the role of research in STP decision making.  The meeting involves leading scholars and practitioners and has itself become an interdisciplinary node for the sprawling and ill-defined area of scholarship at the complex interface of science, technology and decision making.

One opportunity that has yet to be fully capitalized on in this meeting is to bring together European-based STP scholars with their counterparts in North America, as the meeting has historically been U.S. focused with mostly U.S. participants.  

{access view=guest}Access to the full article is free, but requires you to register. Registration is simple and quick – all we need is your name and a valid e-mail address. We appreciate your interest in bridges.{/access} {access view=!guest} Since I am the chair of the 2010 conference, the opportunity to use the build partnerships is one that I’d like to more fully exploit.  My partners in this effort include my co-chair, Michele Garfinkel a policy analyst at the J. Craig Venter Institute, and the 2012 chair Susan Cozzens, professor of public policy at Georgia Tech University.  Together we are putting together a meeting focused on building partnerships in science and technology policy research while focusing on stimulating discussions at the frontiers of STP research.

Over the past decade I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time collaborating with colleagues in Europe on a range of science policy topics and one thing that I have noticed is that, with a few notable exceptions, the connections between STP scholars across the Atlantic are not as well developed as they could be.  One of the notable examples of where excellent partnerships exist is in the area of science and technology studies (STS), where the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) has well developed collaborations with the U.S.-based Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S).  Other notable examples of strong collaborations can be found in the Science and Democracy Network pioneered by Harvard’s Sheila Jasanoff and of course the work of the 2012 GRC chair Susan Cozzens.

In 2010 the meeting will be held August 8-13 in Waterville Valley Resort, in New Hampshire, which is about 90 minutes north of Boston.  The meeting format is dictated by GRC, and has sessions in the morning before lunch, afternoons off for informal meetings and discussions, and then sessions in the evening following dinner.  We have prepared a very preliminary agenda for the meeting, in which we speculated on ideal participants who have yet to be formally invited, much less confirmed.  Here is that agenda to give a sense of the topics and desired participants:

    * The Big Issues in Science and Technology Policy Research
      (Daniel Sarewitz / Peter Weingart / Susan Cozzens)
    * STS and STP: Is There a Community or are There Communities?
      (David Guston / Silke Beck / Mark Brown / Shobita Parthasarathy / Elizabeth McNie)
    * Science Policy Research and Science Policy Decisions Case Study: US Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act
      (Joan Scott / Cindy Pellegrini / Muin Khoury / Joann Boughman)
    * Comparative Perspectives on Science Technology Policy Research in US and EU
      (Steve Rayner / Jack Stilgoe / Merle Jacob / Barry Bozeman)
    * Case Study: Chemical Regulation in US and EU
      (Phil Macnaghten, Greg Nemet / Astrid Schomaker / Steve Owens / Richard Denison)
    * Science and Technology Policy Education: How are We Doing?
      (Kevin Finneran / Chuck Weiss / Magnus Gulbrandsen / Bill Hooke)
    * Politicization of Science: How Much of a Problem?
      (Donald Kennedy / Philip Campbell / Neal Lane)
    * Science and Democracy: What Role for Science Policy Research?
      (Eva Lövbrand / Per Koch / Nico Stehr / Daniel Lee Kleinmann)
    * The Future of Science and Technology Policy Research
      (Susan Cozzens / Rachel Ankeny / Tom Kalil)

The topics at the meeting are split between case studies and discussions of the field (such as it is).   Discussions focused on the field will include a close look at where it has been, where it might be going, education and comparative perspectives.   The topical sessions will also include comparative perspectives on chemical regulation, genetic screening and the politicization of science.  We expect to include a number of practitioners at the meeting, both in the program and as participants.  All sessions are “off the record” to encourage open discussion of the latest research and its potential significance.

We are hopeful to attract a much larger European presence at the meeting than has been the case previously.  The event has a great track record of including early career professionals and students.  There is a significant poster session during the week focused on presented the work of early career scholars.  To these ends we are still very much involved in fund raising for the meeting, and would welcome any advice or, especially, contributions.  We are trying to fund the meeting based on relatively small levels of support from a wide range of contributors.

Details on the 2010 GRC Conference on Science and Technology Policy, including information on how to register, can be found online at: http://www.grc.org/conferences.aspx?id=0000458 .  The meeting is capacity constrained at about 120 people, so be sure to register soon.  If you have any questions about the meeting (or if you’d like to help support it!) please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Meantime, happy holidays and wishing you a happy 2010!


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