Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

October 18, 2006

See-Through Science: Why Public Engagement Needs To Move Upstream

Filed under: Ethics,Theory To Practice — Gini @ 11:22 am

Politics and science needn’t be like oil and water. How do scientists make their advice credible to a sceptical public? How can social outcomes of scientific and technological developments be improved by, yes, “engaging” the public from a substantive perspective (“citizens are seen as subjects, not objects, of the process. They work actively to shape decisions, rather than having their views canvassed by other actors to inform the decision[s] that are then taken”), not just normative (“dialogue is an important ingredient of a healthy democracy”), or instrumental (“engagement processes are carried out because they serve particular interests”) ones?

James Wilsdon, a researcher on science, technology and sustainable development at Demos (“The Think Tank For Everyday Democracy”), and Rebecca Willis, then Associate Director of Green Alliance (“thinking, talking, acting on the environment”) and Vice-Chair of the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission, published a thoughtful piece in the context of comparing public involvement in genetically modified foods, and nanotechnology, on “See Through Science” in January 2005. Here is their .pdf article:


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