Consensus conferences, also known as citizens’ panels—a collection of lay citizens akin to a jury but charged with deliberating on policy issues with a high technical content—are a potentially important way to conduct technology assessments, inform policy makers about public views of new technologies, and improve public understanding of and participation in technological decision making. The first citizens’ panel in the United States occurred in April 1997 on the issue of “Telecommunications and the Future of Democracy.” This article evaluates the (...) impact of this citizens’ panel. The standard criteria to evaluate the impact of analyses focus on the “actual impact” and on the “impact on general thinking.” To these standard criteria, this article introduces the evaluation of two impacts related to learning: impact on the training of knowledgeable personnel and the interaction with lay knowledge. The impact evaluation is based on a nearly comprehensive set of semistructured telephone interviews with the participants in the panel. (shrink)
Debates over the politicization of science have led some to claim that scientists have or should have a “right to research.” This article examines the political meaning and implications of the right to research with respect to different historical conceptions of rights. The more common “liberal” view sees rights as protections against social and political interference. The “republican” view, in contrast, conceives rights as claims to civic membership. Building on the republican view of rights, this article conceives the right to (...) research as embedding science more firmly and explicitly within society, rather than sheltering science from society. From this perspective, all citizens should enjoy a general right to free inquiry, but this right to inquiry does not necessarily encompass all scientific research. Because rights are most reliably protected when embedded within democratic culture and institutions, claims for a right to research should be considered in light of how the research in question contributes to democracy. By putting both research and rights in a social context, this article shows that the claim for a right to research is best understood, not as a guarantee for public support of science, but as a way to initiate public deliberation and debate about which sorts of inquiry deserve public support. (shrink)
This article explores Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as an “object of care” for use in examining the relationship between creativity and responsibility in the sciences and beyond. Through three short sketches from different disciplinary lenses—literature, science and technology studies, and feminist studies—readers get a sense of the different ways scholars might consider Shelley’s text as an object of care. Through an analysis and synthesis of these three sketches, the authors illustrate the value of such an object in thinking about broad cultural (...) issues. The article acts as a kind of boundary object by creating distinct, yet overlapping narratives from an object that is owned by many social worlds. The three sketches reveal Frankenstein as a thoughtful consideration about what it means to care for, or fail to care for, one’s creation, rather than as a cautionary tale about the evils of scientific hubris. Although infrastructures at universities often prevent interdisciplinary dialogue, the article concludes that purposeful boundary objects created around objects of care like Frankenstein can help build bridges and create shared meanings for new interdisciplinary spaces. (shrink)
Nearly two decades of debate have not settled the definition of research misconduct. The literature provides four explanatory frameworks for misconduct. The paper examines these frameworks and maps them onto efforts by the U.S. Public Health Service to define research misconduct and subsequent responses to these efforts by the scientific community. The changing frameworks suggest that closure will not be achieved without an authoritative effort, which may occur through the Research Integrity Panel’s recent attempt to create a government-wide definition.
Imagine putting together a jigsaw puzzle that works like the board game in the movie “Jumanji”: When you finish, whatever the puzzle portrays becomes real. The children playing “Jumanji” learn to prepare for the reality that emerges from the next throw of the dice. But how would this work for the puzzle of scientific research? How do you prepare for unlocking the secrets of the atom, or assembling from the bottom-up nanotechnologies with unforeseen properties – especially when completion of such (...) puzzles lies decades after the first scattered pieces are tentatively assembled? In the inaugural issue of this journal, Michael Polanyi argued that because the progress of science is unpredictable, society must only move forward with solving the puzzle until the picture completes itself. Decades earlier, Frederick Soddy argued that once the potential for danger reveals itself, one must reorient the whole of one’s work to avoid it. While both scientists stake out extreme positions, Soddy’s approach – together with the action taken by the like-minded Leo Szilard – provides a foundation for the anticipatory governance of emerging technologies. This paper narrates the intertwining stories of Polanyi, Soddy and Szilard, revealing how anticipation influenced governance in the case of atomic weapons and how Polanyi’s claim in “The Republic of Science” of an unpredictable and hence ungovernable science is faulty on multiple levels. (shrink)
The International Research Institute for Climate Prediction was created in 1996 with an “end-to-end” mission to engage in climate research and modeling on a seasonal-to-interannual time scale and to provide the results of this research in a useful way to farmers, fishermen, public health officials, and others capable of making the best of the predicted climate conditions. As a boundary organization, IRI straddles the divides between the production and use of research and between the developed world and the developing world. (...) This article describes the institutional history of IRI, examining how the end-to-end mission evolved over time, how it is becoming institutionalized in IRI as a boundary organization, and the ongoing challenges it presents to managing the boundary between climate variability research and societal applications. (shrink)
While the important challenges of public deliberations on emerging technologies are crucial to keep in mind, this paper argues that scholars and practitioners have reason to be more confident in their performance of participatory technology assessments (pTA). Drawing on evidence from the 2008 National Citizens’ Technology Forum (NCTF) conducted by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, this paper describes how pTA offers a combination of intensive and extensive qualities that are unique among modes of engagement. In (...) the NCTF, this combination led to significant learning and opinion changes, based on what can be characterized as a high-quality deliberation. The quality of the anticipatory knowledge required to address emerging technologies is always contested, but pTAs can be designed with outcomes in mind—especially when learning is understood as an outcome. (shrink)
The Allison Commission focused attention on the administration of the scientific bureaux and its relation to the jurisdictional system in the Congress. The commission also had a more considerable influence on congressional policy towards the scientific bureaux than was previously thought. Legislative recommendations offered by the Allison Commission became law, even if they avoided the notice of congressional opponents through the strategic manipulation of the appropriations process. Hilary Herbert was not a crude enemy of science, but a staunch defender of (...) the obligations of Congress to scrutinise the expenditure of funds it allocated.This detailed political history of the Allison Commission is a necessary part of any history of American science policy. William Boyd Allison and Hilary Herbert were, no less than scientists like Powell, initiators of a tradition which has continued to be important in American governmental science policy.The form of the special committee devoted to scientific issues was initiated by the Allison Commission. It prefigured more recent and familiar congressional inquiries like the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, the Government Operations Committee under Representative Fountain, the House Science Policy Task Force, and the Energy and Commerce Committee under Representative Dingell. The attentiveness to details like pay, printing, food and morale—as small but manageable parts of the larger enterprise—foreshadows more contemporary inquiries into the details of the procedures for awarding grants and contracts and the assurances of financial and scientific integrity. The mechanisms of control applied to governmental science by the Allison Commission—particularly itemised appropriations, but also control over personnel through promotions and control of bureaucratic organisation by virtue of congressional rather than disciplinary organisation—stand as early examples of how Congress may continue to exert its constitutional authority to scrutinise an innovative and entrepreneurial scientific community. (shrink)