Responsible research and innovation in the UK university: the politics of research governance

This article by Sarah Hartley and Warren Pearce was first published on the LSE Impact Blog on 14 November, 2016 and is republished here under a CC BY 3.0 licence. *** What is science for? One answer to this might be “to answer questions about how the world works”. Sounds simple, but packed into these eight words are …

Science, utility and responsibility

The value of science for society and the role of scientists in society has been debated for a long time (and in this context the word ‘science’ generally refers to the natural, physical, biological sciences). Just recently the topic has crept up on us yet again. Some have argued that, in the context of climate …

Acceleration, autonomy and responsibility

In recent emails and meetings there has been a lot of talk about ‘acceleration’, both about the rhetorical use of acceleration in the context of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and about the reality of living in an accelerated academy. In this post I will examine ‘acceleration’ a bit further, especially in the context of …

Sock puppets, muzzles and the impact agenda

This is a post by JOHN HOLMWOOD A new threat to the contribution of university research to public debate has been identified. This derives from Cabinet Office rules that would prevent bodies in receipt of grants from Government from lobbying. It has been suggested that this could muzzle academic research. Ironically, the rules derive from …

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 …

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 …

The well-informed citizen

Last week Greg Hollin sent me an interesting article by Charles Taylor on Latour and metaphor which was an enjoyalbe read, as it sparkles with word play from the title onwards. However, this is not what I want to write about. When reading the article I happened to glance at a footnote mentioning an old …

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 …