May 3, 2016, by Brigitte Nerlich

Making Science Public: End of award conference, 22 June 2016

We are celebrating the (upcoming) end of the Leverhulme Trust Research programme: Making Science Public with a one day conference and we would be delighted if you could attend. The conference will take place at the University of Nottingham, University Park Campus, Highfield House, on 22 June.

The programme (see below) includes four panel discussions showcasing work carried out within the Making Science Public research programme. The panels will be chaired by the following external discussants: Mark Brown (California State University, United States), Fern Wickson (GenØk – Centre for Biosafety, Tromsø, Norway), Bob Antonio (University of Kansas, United States) and Alan Irwin (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark).

Following the academic conference, James Wilsdon (University of Sheffield), Charlotte Watts (Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK Department for International Development), Brian Wynne (University of Lancaster) and Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard University) have agreed to engage the audience in conversation about the topic: What kinds of evidence do we need in a democracy? This is a public event which will be followed by a drinks reception. The day will end with a conference BBQ which we hope you will be able to attend.

This is a free event but we are not able to reimburse travel/accommodation costs, and there will be a charge of £15.00 for the conference BBQ.

Spaces are limited, so please register on Eventbrite before it’s too late. For further details about the conference, please contact our Programme Manager Harinee Selvadurai ASAP.

We look forward to seeing you in June!

Image: Millennium Garden, University of Nottingham


Leverhulme Trust Research Programme: Making Science Public – Challenges and Opportunities

End of Award Conference

Making Science Public: Opening up Closed Spaces

Highfield House, University Park Campus, University of Nottingham

Wednesday 22 June 2016

In recent years, we have seen a number of initiatives promoting the opening up of science/society relations. These are often framed as ways of pre-empting conflicts and public contention around research agendas or new technologies. In light of controversies around BSE, MMR, genetic modification and climate change, there have been a number of efforts to:

  • engage the public on the social and ethical dimensions of emerging areas of research
  • make the use of scientific evidence in policymaking more transparent
  • promote frameworks of responsible innovation and research for grand societal challenges
  • embed mechanisms for openness, transdisciplinarity and co-design in research systems

On the face of it, such initiatives constitute a movement to make science public. Collectively, they invoke aspirations to secure public value from science by: engaging with the public or creating opportunities for the public to engage; making scientific data public; and conducting science-related policy activities in public.

Yet, far from being a clear-cut solution, these agendas to make science public raise diverse and potentially contradictory concerns. For some, patterns of excluding unruly publics or inconvenient evidence, or prematurely closing down the framing of policy options are being reinforced in a new guise. For others, mechanisms for making science public only deepen the forces of bureaucracy and market-centric valuations of research and evidence. Concerns have also been raised about the degradation of the public sphere and the challenge of addressing matters of public interest in this context.

We therefore ask: Where does this leave the agenda for what has been called the ‘democratisation of science’? How can the links between science, policy, innovation and the public be reconstructed at a time of major political changes including austerity?

The Leverhulme-funded Making Science Public (MSciP) Research Programme is holding a one-day workshop on 22 June 2016 at the University of Nottingham to discuss findings from four years of work on defining and investigating such issues. We draw from case studies of science/policy/public interactions in a number of regulatory, research and research policy domains: animal research, antimicrobial resistance, ash dieback, climate change, energy access, food security, genetically modified insects, responsible innovation and transdisciplinary knowledge. We also seek to put policy developments in these science and technology domains in the context of wider political developments around immigration, religion, universities and the public sphere. Through this, we hope to connect debates informed by science and technology studies (STS) with debates elsewhere on matters of common interest.

The workshop will stimulate discussion on the following questions:

  • Who represents ‘the public’, who has a right to participate in science policy decisions and who is responsible for securing public value from research?
  • How have questions about the ability of science and innovation to address grand societal challenges been opened up or closed down?
  • How might we rethink agendas for democratising science? Do we need to go back to foundational concepts or invent new ones for new times?
  • Which meanings and practices involved in ‘making science public’ are valuable?
  • Are there links between democratisation of science and movements to democratise democracy itself?


09.15-09.30        Coffee and arrival

09.30-09.35        Welcome by Karen Cox (Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Nottingham)

09.35-09.45        Introduction by Brigitte Nerlich, Director of Making Science Public (MSciP)

09.45-09.55        Making Science Public: Interrogation or Imagination? by MSciP Deputy Director, Sujatha Raman

09.55 -11.25       Panel 1: Opening up Scientific Agendas and Policy Practices

Panellists: Sarah Hartley, Pru Hobson-West, Carol Morris & Susanne Seymour, Judith Tsouvalis

Discussant: Fern Wickson (GenØk – Centre for Biosafety, Tromsø, Norway)

Have scientific research agendas and policy practices been reframed as a result of initiatives to open them up? Where do responsibilities lie for responding to new ways of framing that may be proposed through these efforts?

11.25-11.45        Coffee

11.45-13.15        Panel 2: Science, Religion and the Moderation of Democratic Conflict

Panellists: Vivien Lowndes, Brigitte Nerlich, Alexander Smith and Warren Pearce

Discussant: Bob Antonio (University of Kansas, United States)

Is the common trope of a clash between science, democracy and religion adequate? What roles do science and religion play in moderating democratic conflicts?

13.15-14.15        Lunch

14.15-15.45        Panel 3: Science, Publics and Participation

Panellists: Stevienna de Saille, Eleanor Hadley Kershaw, Roda Madziva and Alison Mohr

Discussant: Alan Irwin (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

How is the public imagined in transdisciplinary and participatory initiatives around science and technology? How do these compare with visions of the public on politically controversial matters such as immigration?

15.45-16.05        Tea

16.05-17.35        Panel 4: Science and the Public Interest

Panellists: John Holmwood, Paul Martin, Sujatha Raman and Adam Spencer

Discussant: Mark Brown (California State University, Sacramento, United States)

How is the public interest imagined and framed, and how do particular articulations matter for science? How might we reconstruct visions of the public interest for the times we live in?

18.00-19.00        Public event: What kinds of Evidence do we need in a Democracy?

Panellists: Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard University), Charlotte Watts (Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK Department for International Development), James Wilsdon (University of Sheffield) and Brian Wynne (Lancaster University)

19.00                       Drinks reception

19.45                       Reception close

20.00                      Conference BBQ at The Hemsley, University Park Campus


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