Snapshots of the unknown – some holiday souvenirs

On holiday at the English seaside I read two very different books: a popular science book on Aristotle’s biology by Armand Marie Leroi (The Lagoon, 2014) and a novel by Jules Verne about a sea voyage to the North pole (Les Aventures du Capitaine Hatteras, 1864). While reading these books, I also came across an …

Consensus in science

At the Circling the Square 2 conference there was a lot of talk about ‘consensus’ and Mike Hulme gave an inspiring key note lecture about the concept from a philosophical and sociological perspective (Paul Matthews has provided a summary on the conference blog). All this made me think a bit more about the meaning of …

Expertise and the changing nature of universities: Reflections on a recent European Ombudsman ruling

A recent ruling by the European Ombudsman highlights the effects of the changing nature of the university on the use of expertise in science governance and policy-making more broadly. The Ombudsman recognises universities are developing closer ties with industry and becoming commercial entities in research production and commercialisation of results. She argues that traditional notions …

Call for papers: Democratising science and technology policy in times of austerity

Myself and Sarah Hartley are convening a panel entitled ‘Democratising science and technology policy in times of austerity’ at the Policy and Politics conference in Bristol on September 15-16th. We invite abstracts (300 words) before the deadline of May 1st, with a particular interest in papers which straddle the boundary between STS and public policy. Go …

What role for a scientist in political science communication?

This is a GUEST POST by ATHENE DONALD, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge and Master of Churchill College. A couple of months ago Brigitte Nerlich, who hosts this blog, asked me to contribute a post. As it happened, when she sent me the invitation I had just read, and possibly inwardly …

Basic science and climate politics: A flashback to 1989

We were trying to empty a room for refurbishment. So we rummaged through some old papers which included amongst many others: an inaugural lecture transcript from 1991 (Robert Dingwall, former Director of our Institute for Science and Society), Karl Popper’s last paper entitled “Towards an evolutionary theory of knowledge” (with the enigmatic scribble: ‘Popper’s last …

A cut too far? The ritual slaughter debate in Britain

The World Food Summit, in 1996, agreed a definition of food security that included the requirement that food met the food preferences of communities. Indeed, it is evident that food preferences reflect aspects of culture including religious identity. Where food preferences include the consumption of animals, debates about animal welfare also arise which can come …

Science, politics and science communication

I sometimes get asked why I write blog posts about science communication and even sometimes practice science communication, given that science communication is not really the focus of our ‘Making Science Public’ programme of research (which was drafted in response to a Leverhulme Trust call for proposals on ‘science and politics’). Despite its title, the …