Science, politics and integrity

On 12 October three things appeared in my Twitter timeline: a report, an academic paper and an interview, all dealing with science and politics in the context of the management of the coronavirus pandemic. Most importantly, there was the House of Commons report which showed for all to see what a shambles the UK government’s …

Post-Brexit gene editing regulation

Some of us are old enough to remember the controversies surrounding genetically modified or engineered foods and crops that raged in Europe (which included the UK) around the turn of the millennium. Some of us are even old enough to remember debates about recombinant DNA in the seventies (for those who don’t, I recommend Matthew …

Science, sanity and sanitation

Lots of things keep happening in this pandemic… Two things, in particular, happened over the last couple of days, which made me and many others sit up and think. The membership of SAGE, the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, was revealed at last, and we heard that Dominic Cummings attended meetings. At the same time, …

If not evidence-based, then what?

In my last post on science communication, I quoted from an article by David Dickson in which he said that “evidence-based decision-making is an ideal that we should aspire to at every level of society, from local communities to the top levels of government”. Evidence – a twitter discussion There was a bit of back-lash …

Making science public: Taking stock

When we wrote our ‘Making Science Public: Challenges and Opportunities’ research project some six or so years ago, various scandals had rocked the unspoken contract between science and society, universities and their users (BSE, MMR, climategate etc.). This contributed to a widely held perception, and I stress perception, of a lack of public trust in …

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 …

Ash dieback (Chalara), free trade, and the technocracy of biosecurity

This is a post by Judith Tsouvalis, one of the research fellows on the Making Science Public team. In March 2012, tree and plant health became a matter of national concern in Britain following the discovery of an East Asian fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus at a nursery in Buckinghamshire, England. The ash saplings infected by …

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 …