- In 2001, the journal Science, Technology, & Human Values ran a special issue on so-called “boundary organizations” (see end of this blog for full references). Dave Guston is renowned scholar of political science and science policy theory. His idea of boundary organizations is that the realms of science and policy are not entirely separate; there are actors who span and negotiate between the two. This report contains a summary of all of the articles published in that journal. Many of the examples of “boundary spanners” deal with issues related to agriculture and climate change. David Cash shows extension’s role in negotiating water use in the U.S. High Plains states. He discusses the history of extension and multiple scales of the science/policy interface in this case. Clark Miller studies the politics of climate science. In this paper he argues that the international “climate regime” doesn’t fit neatly into the boundary organization model, and instead he proposes the term “hybrid management” for the function of organizations like the IPCC.
Cash, D.W. et al. (2003). “Knowledge systems for sustainable development.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. http://www.pnas.org/content/100/14/8086.full.pdf+html
- This article ties together some of the theoretical concepts on boundary organizations presented by Guston and others with a set of case studies of global environmental development. The authors represent both STS and “sustainability science” scholars, led by W.C. Clark. It also discusses science policy communication, in which they identify salience, legitimacy, and credibility as the main themes in providing useful information.
Cash, D.W., Borck, J.C., & Pratt, A.G. (2006). “Countering the Loading-Dock Approach to Linking Science and Decision Making.” Science, Technology, & Human Values, 31, p. 465-494. http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/students/envs_5100/Cashetal2006.pdf
- David Cash has another great example of boundary organizations and how they work. He proposes four mechanisms for them to work: convening (bringing people together), translation (communicating between different audiences, for example, science and the public), collaboration (working on a project with multiple interests represented), and mediation (finding mutual ground in conflicts). The “loading-dock approach” is a poor model of communication: it involves just getting the data out there, but not doing any follow up or getting any feedback. Cash et al. use the case study of communicating climate forecasts to show how participation from stakeholders is crucial to the 2-way communication between science and decision-makers. This is sometimes referred to as the “co-production” of knowledge (although other STS scholars use to work co-production in a different way, meaning the co-evolution of scientific knowledge and social systems/order).
Breuer, Norman, Clyde Fraisse, and Peter Hildebrand (2009). “Molding the pipeline into loop.” Journal of Service Climatology.
- Our friends down south are blazing the path for extension’s role in helping farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change. This particular article describes how they used participatory dialogue with farmers and extension educators to create a website to provide information about regional crop outlooks based on climate forecasts. They call this a decision support system. For more information, see their 2010 report here. And for more comments on why agricultural extension needs to move beyond the linear model, read John Gerber's 1994 article here.
[Full articles from the STHV 2001 issue that have free access:]
Guston, David (2001). “Boundary Organizations in Environmental Policy and Science: An Introduction.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 26. http://www.cspo.org/_old_ourlibrary/documents/boundaryorgs.pdfCash, David W. (2001). “‘In Order to Aid in Diffusing Useful and Practical Information’: Agricultural Extension and Boundary Organizations.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 26. http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/In%20order%20to%20aid%20in%20diffusing%20useful%20and%20practical%20information%202000-10.pdf