June 28, 2011
June 24, 2011
Most critically, we must democratize these abilities, both to measure and to respond, in order to diversify agro-ecosystems and environments and decentralize the problem-solving capability. We will achieve this by fostering scientific method and harnessing local knowledge and commitment in communities that have previously been ignored or treated as passive recipients of help. (p. 38)At the start of the twenty-first century, science is at a critical juncture. Four centuries of inquiry, discovery, and invention have created a base of knowledge that has the potential to provide people everywhere, in all circumstances, with nourishment, improved health, and longer life. But the institutional mechanisms that ostensibly exist to encourage the application of science to practical problems are today hindering that very process. The norms that have evolved around gate-keeping have created new clergy, new impediments and new inefficiencies. Without a systemic change, science’s promise will not be available for those who most need it, and the promise of a truly diverse, robust and fair innovation culture may elude us. (p. 40)
Science has major social benefits and thus ‘public value’. Yet crucially, as recent controversies have underlined, this value cannot be assumed and taken as automatic, no matter what scientific research is done, or under what conditions. We need therefore to shift from noun to adjective, by asking not only: what is the public value of science? But also, what would public value science look like? (p. 29)
June 20, 2011
"Co-production of science and policy in the context of integrated assessment activities requires substantial commitment to the three components we have identified: interdisciplinarity, stakeholder participation, and production of knowledge that is demonstrably usable." (Lemos & Morehouse, 2005, p. 66)
June 13, 2011
June 10, 2011
Bioethicists are especially aware of the legacy of distrust of genetic research in minority communities, because of past injustices such as the Tuskegee experiments, the eugenics movement, and a more recently uncovered story of Henrietta Lacks. So the bioethicists decided that they didn’t just want diverse interests represented in their discussions; the next step was to bring together communities of color for dialogues. The bioethicists worked with existing African American and Latino community-based organizations (CBOs), and they let the CBOs choose who would participate, where they would hold the sessions, etc. The existing organizational structure of the CBOs also meant that people could more easily decide who and what to advocate once the dialogue sessions were done (the groups actually met with policy-makers in Washington, DC). Information from all of the dialogue sessions was written into academic and policy reports, and community representatives were involved in the writing and review process. A full report of their study is located here, but you need a journal subscription to access it.
June 9, 2011
- 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
June 6, 2011
Leading researchers say it is possible to create crop varieties that are more resistant to drought and flooding and that respond especially well to rising carbon dioxide. The scientists are less certain that crops can be made to withstand withering heat, though genetic engineering may eventually do the trick.
3) Let's not view plant breeding and biotechnology as a panacea to climate change. There are many other factors in global agriculture that are not related to climate change. Improved plant varieties can be difficult to translate into direct benefits, especially in developing countries, because farmers must use new management techniques and buy into the higher-input system. This is why extension education is critical for agricultural development, in all parts of the world. In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, farmers would just benefit from using more fertilizer, which is the main barrier to higher crop yields (Vitousek et al., 2009). However, fertilizer prices are exorbitantly high (Otsuka & Kijima, 2010). Thus, technology is not the easy answer that we wish it were. Otsuka and Kijima write that, "we should not overlook the fact that rice yield increased by roughly 50% and non-rice yield increased by nearly 100% in SSA over the last three decades since around 1970 despite the absence of major technological breakthroughs" (Otsuka & Kijima, 2010, p. ii66). Even in the Green Revolution, it was not a straightforward path from science to technology to application.
Easterling, W.E. (1996). Adapting North American agriculture to climate change in review. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 80, l-53.
Gillis, J. (4 June 2011). "A Warming Planet Struggles to Feed Itself." New York Times.
Otsuka, K. & Kijima, Y. (2010). Technology Policies for a Green Revolution and Agricultural Transformation in Africa. JOURNAL OF AFRICAN ECONOMIES, VOLUME 19, AERC SUPPLEMENT 2, p. ii60–ii76 doi:10.1093/jae/ejp025
Ruttan, V.W. (2006a). Is War Necessary for Economic Growth? Military Procurement and Technology Development. New York: Oxford University Press.
Ruttan, V.W. (2006b). Social science knowledge and induced institutional innovation: an institutional design perspective. Journal of Institutional Economics, 2(3), 249-272.
Ruttan, V.W. and Hayami, Y. (1984). Toward a theory of induced institutional innovation. Journal of Development Studies, 20(4), 203-223.
Smith, P. & Olesen, J.E. (2010). Synergies between the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change in agriculture. Journal of Agricultural Science, 148, 543-552.
Vitousek, P.M. et al. (2009). Nutrient imbalances in agricultural development. Science 324, 1519-1520.