Proceedings of Conference. 4th-7th June 2006, Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Proceedings of Conference. 4th-7th June 2006, Edinburgh, Scotland.




Analysing deliberative interaction of stakeholders in anticipation of new concepts of mental illness

Ingrid Baart


Genomics shapes utopian images of dealing with mental illness, thereby already influencing new practices of knowledge production, treatment, public and professional perception and management of mental illness – although the future of psychiatry up to this moment is primarily foreshadowed in psychiatric research.

Stakeholders are implicated in, and transformed by this process. We identify stakeholders in four domains: [1] science and technology; [2] professional care and treatment; [3] (potential) patients and family organisations; [4] the public domain.

In our research we will set up debates (heterogeneous group discussions) among them. These trajectories of interaction between stakeholders will be analysed, in co-operation with the stakeholders. With our project we aim to contribute to facilitating public engagement of stakeholders in the development of psychiatry.

The stakeholders in psychiatry are at this moment not implicated in decision making processes about policies or technologies; they are implicated in what might be called an utopian development, that influences scientific research, professional care and the way mental illness is experienced.

We will discuss two questions:

  1. What differences, similarities, and divergences regarding mental illness do genomics-related knowledge and practices produce among the four domains?
  2. What methods are suitable for analysing this interaction between stakeholders?

The theoretical and methodological work of Boltanski and Thevenot is interesting because it provides tools to analyse the discursive struggles as conflicts between different convictions of what is right or justified, based on different models of justification and defensible practices.

Full Poster Abstract

Shifting governance: participatory management of common pool

Tatiana Kluvánková-Oravská, Veronika Chobotová

Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava  

This paper explores the role of social capital and governance in rural development within Slovensky Raj National Park . Based on the theory of Common Pool Resources and Network Governance, the case study explores the external and internal influences on cooperation. Current decision making in the Park is still affected by post socialist relations. In particular inefficient institutional design and non-robust governance of the resources have resulted in over-exploitation of natural resources and treating common property as open-access. On one hand, evidence emerged on domination of interpersonal trust and failure of institutional design. These were found as barriers for the National Park to be viewed by various actors as an asset. On the other hand, municipal and tourism networks show that cooperation is gradually moving from being externally to internally driven, while displaying characteristics of bottom-up and participatory development. A hierarchical governance structure is thus slowly opening up, shifting towards networks and thus collective learning is initiated.

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Understanding drivers of community concerns about emerging technologies

Craig Cormick

Biotechnology Australia

To best engage in community dialogue about emerging technologies that are often causes of social concern, the drivers of concern need to be best understood before models of dialogue can be established. Better understanding of social concerns enables for better two-way dialogue in that it not only best defines the information or education models to use, but provides a mechanism for feedback to developers of new technologies, revealing what the community is willing to accept and why.

Biotechnology Australia has undertaken extensive community research into social attitudes and drivers of these attitudes, to develop a model for analyzing social acceptance of new technologies. These findings underpin models for science-community dialogue and for public awareness activities that are now being used as the basis for community engagement on nanotechnology in Australia . One of the key findings is that there are five key factors of influence for acceptance of new technologies: Information; Regulation; Consultation; Consumer Choice and Consumer Benefit.

Public Awareness Programs that have developed by Biotechnology Australia include:

  • An online upper secondary schools resource on biotechnology, developed in consultation with science teachers;
  • a program of rural forums looking at the impact of biotechnology in 2020;
  • A free-call Gene Technology Information Service;
  • Public forums and hypotheticals in metropolitan areas;
  • An information program for general practitioners.

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Knowledge and acknowledgement: the difficulties of endorsing evidence based approaches to policy making in familiar territories

John Forrester,

Carolyn Snell Stockholm Environment Institute

Recent research indicated that much upland ecology experimentation carried out by academics has little effect on policy. Further research indicates that there are particular problems getting evidence-based data into policy in the area of urban transport. There is an urgent need for high quality, reliable and socially-robust data (after Nowotny et al 2001), yet generation and appraisal of policy options is still largely an ad hoc affair. This poster abstract reports on recent attempts to revisit the science & the public and science/policy relationships to bring the two spheres together to form a science/public/policy relationship to ensure policy relevance and scientific excellence. It is based upon UK studies attempting to endorse evidence-based approaches to policymaking in the apparently relatively non-contentious science issues of upland ecology and urban transport and offers a temporal perspective on the movement towards evidence-informed policy making. In the 1980s in the UK it would be true to say that policy making could be characterised by one word: ‘expertise’. Policy was largely made by expert policymakers who invited scientific and technical experts as and when they saw fit to advise them on matters of a technical nature. Members of the public engaged with policymakers through elections and as the recipients of publicity campaigns but were largely seen only as the beneficiaries of policy outputs which were designed by experts to meet public needs and the common good. 1985 saw the publication of the Royal Society The Public Understanding of Science by Sir Walter Bodmer in which scientists were encouraged to engage more with the public. The Bodmer Report was instrumental in giving rise to the academic discipline of the Public Understanding of Science (PUS) which has contributed greatly to what has come since and has fostered many beneficial projects to increase communication between scientists and the public and latterly between scientists and policymakers. By the year 2000 we have moved on a lot: there have been many initiatives to foster communication and even dialogue between different publics and various expert communities.

These initiatives can be characterised by the title of the House of Lords select committee report Science and Society. The importance of ‘lay’ knowledge is now recognised and much effort has been expended in engaging ‘publics’. But the results vis-à-vis engagement in policy has been, at best, patchy:

  • Foot & Mouth – good scientist to policy communication – relatively poor public communication.
  • Urban transport – relatively good public to policy communication. Relatively poor expert to policy communication.
  • Upland Ecology – relatively good scientific to policy dialogue. Some increasingly good public engagement but rarely linked to policy.
  • Pollutants and Health – relatively poor communication all ‘round.

Despite the best efforts of many, almost every project, initiative and practical example can be characterised by single or at best asynchronous two-way communication between the three major spheres of actors of the policy making community, the scientific and other expert communities, and various ‘publics’.

There are some examples of good practice:

  • the RELU-funded Sustainable Uplands: Managing Uncertainty in Dynamic Socio-Environmental Systems is certainly moving in the right direction;
  • so too is the Science in Society (ESRC) project Divided we Stand: Bridging the Differential Understanding of Environmental Risk that is looking to create dialogue between the three spheres.
  • the UKPopNet-funded Centre for Evidence Based Conservation (CEBC) in Birmingham has the goal of supporting decision making in conservation and environmental management through the production and dissemination of systematic reviews on the effectiveness of management and policy interventions;
  • initial reports on the work around diffuse agricultural pollution (especially phosphorous) point to barriers being overcome.
However, the important point is that even where engagement is good, the fact remains that it rarely influences policy decisions. All of this (good) work and good engagement currently, we contend, simply increases dialogue around the outside of a circle comprising experts, public and policy maker. If the UK policy community now had the strength to move the policy making process into the centre of the circle, we would have a real possibility to move towards as situation where expert knowledge can be acknowledged and we will have a socially robust endorsing of evidence-based approaches to policymaking. We strongly contend that this process of colonizing the centre of the circle should still be controlled by the policy-making community, but it must have a legitimated input from public and from experts. So far, very few initiatives have entered the middle of the circle and ‘crystallised’ successful scientific-evidence-based and socially robust policy. Some projects and initiatives are currently setting out the ground rules for bringing together science-based and experience-backed policy formulation in the emerging concept of what we refer to as “evidence-informed” policy.

They include:

  • the RELU-funded Sustainable Uplands: Managing Uncertainty in Dynamic Socio-Environmental Systems which has identified little contact between groups but shared interests and
  • some UKPopNet-funded projects are further exploring methods for bringing all three groups of stakeholders together.
  • the EPSRC Sustainable Urban Environments programme, DISTILLATE, is bringing together engineers, social scientists and policy makers in novel ways.

We certainly have the foundations laid to make a similar leap between 2000 and 2015 as we have already made in the 15 years between 1985 and 2000. However, there are still barriers to be overcome and concentrating on talking around the outside of the circle alone will not let us make this jump. Evidence from Scotland and other countries in Europe where this approach has been explored suggests that the benefits of this model of operation must be sold to the policy makers.

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Risks and achievements of face-to-face-interactions in participatory science & technology governance

Alexander Görsdorf

Institute of Science & Technology Studies, University of Bielefeld , Germany

Most participatory and deliberative endeavours in science and technology governance heavily rely on the communicative dynamics of face-to-face-interactions. Methods like focus groups, consensus conferences, citizen juries, and scenario workshops employ interactions to facilitate exchange and understanding between the representatives of different academic disciplines, domains of experience, values, or world views. What exactly the interactions are expected to achieve in the context of specific methods and specific events depends. Generally speaking though, face-to-face-interactions in participatory exercises are mainly expected to integrate hitherto neglected perspectives, values, or knowledge and/or balance any lopsidedness of interests (cf. also Joss 1999; Joss and Bellucci 2002). Face-to-face-interactions, then, are regarded as feasible means to achieve certain ends: a specific form (social dimension) of communication is—implicitly or explicitly—expected to entail more or less specific effects with regard to its content (thematic or object dimension).

From a sociological point of view, this is interesting because in the literature face-to-face-interactions are described as a relatively autonomous and wayward form of the social: formal expectations are often undermined, presentational demands with respect to topics and persons are high while the capacity to extendedly and thoroughly address complex issues is rather low. And in fact, although many participatory methods accord interactions a central place they also specifically format and constrain them (e.g. by specifying themes or sequences of themes, seating orders, setting up sub groups, employing moderators, complementing oral and written communication etc.). In the field’s own discourse as well as social scientific evaluation and analysis, however, the issue of what face-to-face-interactions can or cannot do is not touched upon. Up to now the specific relations of the social and the object dimensions of communication in participatory endeavours have not been systematically addressed, related, and analyzed. The literature on public participation and participatory technology assessment focuses on the rationale for it, its impact, or whether its design meets specific criteria like fairness, representation, competence etc. The events themselves, though, the interactions and communications that take place during the procedures and upon which their results rest, have been black boxed. So, this project’s research question is: do face-to-face-interactions have the capacity to (and, indeed, do) perform the tasks they are used for? If we look at the interactions and communications, what effects, achievements, or risks can be empirically observed in the course of events?

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Participatory approaches in knowledge production: the development of a guideline for the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency

Maria Hage

Radboud University Nijmegen , The Netherlands

This contribution deals with participatory approaches in practice. The aim of the project ‘participation in knowledge production under conditions of uncertainty’ is to develop a guideline on stakeholder participation for the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (MNP). T he primary task of the MNP is to advise the Dutch government on a wide variety of environmental issues based on scientific knowledge and expertise.

unknown imageThus, the guideline (to be published in September 2006) has to suit different contexts, products and modes of assessments of the MNP. Therefore it cannot be a recipe book, but it rather triggers reflection on the following guiding questions in a systematic way:

  • Why do I want stakeholder participation?
  • Up to which degree do I want stakeholder participation?
  • What must the content be?
  • Which stakeholders do I need for that?
  • What kind of methods are suited for the chosen goals and chosen stakeholders?

The guideline on stakeholder participation tries to help identify the main goals, motives and contexts of participation in environmental assessments. While keeping in mind the existent resources it gives advice for designing participatory knowledge production meeting realistic expectations. One has to recognize that there is even a certain trade-off between goals of quality of knowledge and goals of democratic design of participatory approaches. There is no participatory design that could possibly serve all purposes. The guideline tries to assist with the choices that have to be made.

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Action research on sustainable development indicators: A comparison of top down versus bottom-up approaches to indicator selection

Kearney , P., O’ Regan, B., Moles, R., Doody, D.

Centre for Environmental Research, University of Limerick , Ireland

Sustainable development is a complex subject encompassing environmental, economic and social factors. As such it is necessary to simplify sustainable development in order to utilise a quantifiable measurable metric that will allow for measure of whether we are becoming more or less sustainable. For this indicators are recognised as been a useful tool. One of the main critiques of the use of indicators is their lack of relevance to the public. Sustainable development measured with indicators are criticised for being overly scientific and failing to resonate with the public. Most of the major sustainable development issues are directly influenced by public opinion and the publics lifestyle choices. As such unless the issue of sustainable development and the reasons for sustainable developments importance are recognised by the public these changes will not come about. Hence there is a need to develop indicators that are relevant to the public and scientifically relevant. To do this effectively the public needs to be represented in the process from the beginning of the indicator selection process. Two methods are under study, firstly using a ‘top-down’ approach; with Limerick City Development Board indicators have been developed. Secondly a ‘bottom-up’ approach using focus groups and the Q method for discourse analysis. Q method is a statistical technique for discourse analysis that allows for statistically significant results using a relatively small sample size. Indicators are developed from the key statements expressed in the Q Sorts. The resulting sets of indicators will be compared to ascertain similarities, differences and opportunities for integration of indicators from the differing sources.

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Chips for everyone – an innovative approach to development of public engagement events

Jane Magill, Dr Scott Roy

University of Glasgow

Chips for everyone is a very successful project funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, (EPSRC) under their Partnerships for Public Engagement (PPE) funding stream. Workshop and drop–in events have been developed to diverse audiences ranging from school classes to shopping centre customers.

The focus of the project is semiconductor technology; a technology which impacts on the daily lives of everyone and yet is largely unseen. The activities seek to engage, engender interest and promote informed discussion about this technology and engineering in general.

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Citizen Science for Sustainability (SuScit): Promoting transdisciplinary dialogue and research for environmental and social justice

Maria Adebowale, Dr. Malcolm Eames, Dr. Karen Lucas, Kate McGeevor, Julia Tomei

Capacity Global, UK

SuScit is a new three year project, funded by the EPSRC’s Towards a Sustainable Urban Environment (SUE) Initiative. It seeks to provide local communities with a greater say in how priorities for environmental and sustainability research are defined, so as to ensure that future research more effectively addresses their needs. The project comprises a structured programme of action research and networking activities designed to promote engagement, dialogue and collaboration. It aims to build links between researchers, sustainability practitioners, and most importantly local citizens, particularly those from marginalized and excluded groups (i.e. older people, young people, people with disabilities and from Black, Asian and ethnic communities). Promoting such engagement presents considerable challenges. There are currently few opportunities for scientists, engineers and social scientists to work directly with local communities to address their environmental and sustainability needs. People from these different groups often talk about environmental problems in very different ways and bring very different sets of experiences and expectations to the table. SuScit is therefore developing and testing a range of tools and techniques for facilitating citizens’ engagement and dialogue on science, environment and sustainability issues through an extensive series of workshops in three local communities.

Full Poster Abstract

Water management and conflict resolution: a case study in Uganda

Joy Mukyala

Makerere University Faculty Of Social Sciences, Uganda

This abstract is based on the study, which was funded by PAES/EU Project and implemented by myself and a team of other Researchers on behalf of Makerere University Institute of Environment and Natural Resources, was carried out in eight Districts in Uganda . It was found out that water shortage in Katakwi district results in conflicts over the struggle for the few water sources (MUIENR and PACE, 2002). Furthermore, the occasional conflicts between the people of Karamoja (Karamajongs) and Katakwi (Itesos) in northeastern Uganda normally escalate during the dry season when the water sources have dried up in Karamoja. When Karamajongs attack Itesos, they follow the water flow, first capture, and take control of the water sources, before they are involved in other raids like cattle rustling (MUIENR and PACE, 2002). Likewise, the Competition for water and the resultant conflicts between pastoralists and cultivators in the Sango Bay area of Southern Uganda is of great concern. The few water sources in the area are shared between livestock and people (MUIENR and PACE, 2002), which creates conflicts between pastoralists and cultivators.

The avoidance or peaceful settling of conflicts induced by water degradation and rehabilitation programs like water management strategies would be some of the measures to attain sustainable peace.

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Alternative future scenarios for the Shannon estuary region: stakeholder participation in sustainable development

O’Keeffe, S., O’Regan, B., Moles, R.

Centre for Environmental Research, University of Limerick, Ireland

This PhD aims to apply scenario planning to the Shannon Estuary region, in the west of Ireland , to identify and encourage policy making, which will promote the more sustainable management of the Shannon estuary ecosystem. Scenario planning is considered a powerful decision tool, encouraging input from all relevant stakeholders and promoting the concepts of sustainable development by facilitating the examination of alternative futures and their likely impacts.

The scenarios applied will be based on those futures proposed by t he United Nations (UN), as a result of The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). These scenarios were developed using a list of plausible variables, which summarise the overall global findings of the assessment and highlight the most common and important issues facing ecosystem management. They link people’s attitudes and priorities to their perusal of “Human well being”, which the UN Assessment defines as, The material needed for a good life (e.g. food, fuel.), Health, Security, Good Social Relations and Freedom of Choice, all which create demands on Ecosystem services, ultimately resulting in the instigation of changes within them.

Before any scenarios can be predicted, the present baseline trends affecting the Shannon ’s ecosystem, must be assessed. The generation of qualitative data through community focus groups and other key stakeholders in the region, reinforced through the assimilation of quantitative data, retrieved from sources such as government agencies and local authorities, will aid in the determination of stakeholder’s preferences, when it comes to achieving human well-being and thus the underlining issues facing the sustainable use of the Shannon estuary ecosystem.

Full Poster Abstract

Handy nature: mobile telecommunication as a tool for biodiversity preservation

Dan Podjed

Faculty of Arts, Ljubljana  

In the 1970s and 80s nature preservation issues became a global social phenomenon, and environmental protests and organizations expanded dramatically. But in the 1990s and at the beginning of the new millennium environmentalism and nature preservation seem to have lost momentum. This fact is not immediately apparent, since public discourse is still focused on global climatic change, the storing of nuclear waste, the hole in the ozone layer and loss of biodiversity, and protection of nature has become an important part of the political agenda (Grove-White, 1993). In principle there are many people willing to participate, however there has been no visible progress in the last decade.

This ‘environmental lethargy’ could be explained by the alienation of people from the natural environment. People no longer identify with nature; they think of it as something distant, not directly connected to them (Ingold, 1993). The main reason for alienation is human ‘settlement’ in the virtual environments made by people (and for people). These environments are mainly created by information and communication technology (ICT), i.e. television, the Internet, telecommunications etc. These new environments actually change the construction of identity, organization of life, and political performance (Rheingold, 2003), and change attitudes toward the biophysical environment (Little, 1999). Virtual environments also create ‘scattered’ or ‘domesticated crowds’ (Nastran Ule, 1994, pp. 277), suggested by the mass media and communicated via ICT. The feeling that ‘anything goes’ is typical for individuals in this new social environment, and has the simultaneous opposition that ‘nothing is possible’. Therefore the real challenge is the activation of these ‘scattered crowds’ in order to transform potential energy into kinetic, to step out of simulation (Baudrillard, 2003) and re-connect to the natural environment. The step ‘back to nature’ could be made by means of ICT, which usually represents an obstacle between the virtual and real worlds; but ICT in this case becomes a tool for addressing and exploring nature.

How can this be achieved? Biodiversity researchers and mobile telecommunications operators should establish an ICT application for locating animals using GPS or GSM tracking devices (cf. Stevenson et al. 2003), and plants and different types of habitats using other monitoring tools. Data on animal movements, vegetation growth and other similar changes in habitats is presented as readable map on a mobile telephone screen. Application users can then focus on one or more species or habitats, learn more about them from concise descriptions, pictures, short videos and sounds received via a mobile multimedia encyclopaedia, follow updated information and locations of GPS or GSM animal tracking, use their images as background and their sounds as ring-tones, and also have a possibility to re-name a chosen (or tracked) creature. Self-chosen and self-denominated themes (animals, plants etc.) namely have a deeper meaning for users than nameless creatures seen in textbooks, classical encyclopaedias or on television screens, and identification with living creatures and anthropomorphism – attribution of human characteristics and qualities to animals, plants etc. (Einarsson, 1993) – in the longer term brings about a deeper relation of mobile telephone users to non-human beings and eventually encourages them to survey real and not only virtual nature.

For the successful implementation of ‘mobile monitoring’, data does not flow only in one direction, i.e. from the centre to users, but as well in the other direction, from the users to the centre. Mobile telephone users are therefore able to participate and send observation data from the field to the central office. But they can also exchange information about what they observe in their surroundings. This kind of mediation and collection of data enables a faster and more widespread type of volunteer biodiversity monitoring and provides a foundation of self-organized social networks for nature preservation. The data sampled by network members can be eventually combined with research efforts of more formalized and established (or professional) governmental and non-governmental organizations, and the application users’ feedback can become a mean for biodiversity preservation policy-making.

Such an application could not, of course, be without flaws. Combining ICT with biodiversity monitoring raises many unsolved ethical problems. For example, is it possible to design an effective and harmless tool for GPS or GSM tracking? Should information on tracking and biodiversity monitoring be kept only by professionals or should it be completely free and available to the public? Can too much public interest in nature do more harm to the environment than no interest?

In short, biodiversity monitoring and surveillance by mobile telephony, taking the ethical shortcomings into consideration, could be an important supplement to contemporary scientific methods, and the use of such an information system could turn mobile communications into an important medium for environmental education, consciousness-raising and also participatory policy-making. Furthermore, the realization of such an interdisciplinary project, which combines anthropological, biological, technological and environmental approaches, might provide some basic environmental knowledge to the public, especially non-interventional methods of biodiversity monitoring and species surveillance. Such an approach – if correctly designed and applied – could also provide one of the possible solutions to mobilize the ‘scattered crowds’, to raise public awareness and end ‘environmental lethargy’ in the new millennium, to combine the work of amateurs and professionals, and to reach the 2010 target of halting biodiversity loss in the European Union.

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A participatory approach to water management in the face of climate change

Wendy Proctor, Ejaz Qureshi, Glyn Wittwer and Mike Young

CSIRO, Australia

Australia is likely to encounter very difficult water management decisions in the future as a result of increasing populations and decreased water availability due to climate change. The Enormous Regional Model (TERM), a Computable General Equilibrium Model has been developed to assess the impacts of different scenarios for various rural and urban industries and regions. Under all scenarios, a population in Australia of 25 million by 2032 as well as a 15 per cent decline in the amount of water available to industries and households in Australia , is assumed. The management scenarios that are considered include water trading between adjacent rural and urban regions, the availability of water from desalination plants, recycled water availability and wage induced inter-regional migration of employees as well as various combinations of these. However the model by itself cannot take into account the various preferences, abilities, infrastructure availability and institutions that are relevant to the industry and household stakeholders that are affected by potential future water management decisions. In this research, we use the various scenarios developed by the model and resulting impacts of these in a Deliberative Multi-criteria Evaluation framework with industry and household stakeholders to come up with a preferred scenario for future water management in different regions of Australia . In doing so, the process highlights some of the potential pitfalls and opportunities within a regional context that will become increasingly important to managing our dwindling water resources in the face of significant climate change effects.

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Critical reflections on recent philosophical views about public participation in science

Stéphanie Ruphy

University of Provence

Philosophers of science have recently called for the abandonment of the traditional, context-independent view of the ends of science. Rather than aiming at coming up with a single and complete account of nature, science is now widely seen as providing accurate but partial representations that respond to the particular needs and interests, both practical and epistemic, of a society at a given time. An immediate consequence of this context-dependent view of the ends of science is that the definition of scientific research programs can no longer be left to the scientists only. The issue of public participation in the formulation of science and technology policies is thus emerging as a pressing concern for contemporary philosophy of science. The most influential recent attempt at addressing this concern has been made by Philip Kitcher who, in his book Science, Truth and Democracy (2001) proposes the normative concept of “well-ordered science” to capture what a democratic organization of scientific research should look like.

My main aim is to offer a critical analysis of this ideal of well-ordered science and to suggest ways of improving it. I will first set out the main lines of the concept of well-ordered science, focusing on how exactly Kitcher conceives participatory approaches in science, and then I will voice two distinct critiques, one about the ability of Kitcher’s scheme to cope with the existence of scientific uncertainties, and the other about its ability to respond to feminist concerns about gender-biased science.

In a nutshell, the underlying general thesis in Kitcher’s scheme of well-ordered science is the following: the aim of science is not restricted to the attainment of epistemic goals; epistemic values must be balanced against practical values in the setting of research agenda. In other words, science is to promote a collective good that includes epistemic as well as practical goals. Moreover, this collective good should not be defined in an objectivist way. It should rather be defined as the collective aspirations that would emerge from an ideal procedure of deliberation which gathers the “tutored” personal preferences of the citizens, thereby taking into account the interests of all groups of a society. A situation of well-ordered society requires thus reliable procedures for setting research agenda that can maximize the expected collective utility as it would be assigned as the product of an ideal deliberation. A key ingredient in this optimization problem is the probability functions adopted for the attainment of the ends embodied in the expected collective utility. For Kitcher, these means-ends relations are assessed by experts. So far so good. But what happens if the experts disagree or, worse, if, given the current state of knowledge in a scientific field, they just don’t know.

By raising the specific question of the role of scientific expertise in an ideal process of deliberation as conceived by Kitcher, I explore and question the ability of such a process to fulfil its aim in a state of well-ordered science, given the existence of genuine scientific uncertainties. I consider first the impact of scientific uncertainties on the range of options available in an ideal deliberation and illustrate my point with concrete examples. These examples suggest that

relying, as Kitcher does, on the presentation of pertinent structure of inquiry nets to make informed decisions on a research agenda is likely to leave aside certain options, because of a lack of scientific interest to investigate these options due only to scientific uncertainty. I then consider another effect of scientific uncertainty on ideal deliberations, to wit, how ill-defined risks affect the building of tutored preferences. I show in particular that the existence of ill-defined risks, along with other factors, tends to allow to incorporate in the debate considerations that in principle do not enter in an ideal deliberation as conceived in the standard of well-ordered science: uncertainty opens up a public debate that ends up encompassing much broader concerns than an ideal deliberation would do. This enlargement of the debate makes it problematic to conceive the collective good as the product of an ideal deliberation based on tutoring of preferences. Unless tutored preferences encompass pure political concerns. But then the standard of well-ordered science cannot be conceived without an explicit account of what a well-ordered society should be (an account that Kitcher does not provide).

The second worry I want to voice concerns the ability of Kitcher’s scheme to respond to feminist agenda in philosophy of science. Feminist philosophical critics of science take a number of different forms. Especially challenging is the feminist attack against the epistemic integrity of science, that is, its capacity to screen out the influence of « contextual » (i.e. social, political, cultural values) values on its content. Feminist critics contend that cases of gender-biased research cannot be simply discarded as mere cases of « bad » science: a better application of the usual rules of acceptable practice, it is claimed, won’t suffice to correct such biases. A pressing task for feminists is then to attend to how science should be organized, given this influence of contextual values on the very content of science, to maximize epistemic success and minimize sexist biases. I explain why Kitcher’s standard of well-ordered science fails to address feminists worries and, building on previous work in feminist epistemology (Ruphy 2006), I suggest ways of complementing it to fulfil the feminist agenda. I conclude by discussing concrete implications of the ideal of well-ordered science for policy and practice.

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Community development and environmental policy in Scotland : case study of a national nature reserve, the Isle of Rum

Andrew Samuel

University of Abertay

In Scotland statutory and voluntary nature conservation agencies can be seen as vying for the right to manage ‘nature’. Usually, this leads specifically to the protection of its wilderness qualities using land management regimes that are ostensibly based on ‘impartial’ and ‘value-free’ science. However, the demands that this science-based conservation practice places on the land often conflicts with the more culturally based management practices of rural communities who live and work in this ‘wild land’.

Since Devolution, high priority has been given to reconciling conservationists’ values and locals’ concerns. This has led to the gradual development of facilitative management ‘technologies’, such as new legislation on public involvement in nature conservation policy. Yet, it remains to be seen whether or not these so-called ‘inclusive’ and ‘co-operative’ technologies can work in practice.

The aim of this paper is to stimulate debate on the development of these new managerial mechanisms that are ostensibly orientated towards the practical reconciliation of nature conservation and community interests, by analysing the latent tensions between the two. The Isle of Rum will be used as an analytical case study since it is one of the UK’s more prestigious large-scale ‘nature conservation’ areas that also has a community development plan in preparation.

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Introducing CAVES: Complexity, Agents, Volatility, Evidence and Scale

Lee-Ann Small, Nick Gotts and Gary Polhil

Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen

CAVES is an EU funded research project, designed to bring together agricultural land users’ experiences with advances in computer modelling and complexity theory, in order to better inform policy makers about land use change. The project is part of a larger programme to encourage new methods of studying complex issues, through interdisciplinary research. CAVES focuses on land use change, or lack thereof, in response to external shocks (such as climate or policy change) and internal pressures (such as social constraints). The CAVES project has three case study sites: one in Grampian, Scotland ; one in Odra region, Poland ; and one in Limpopo province, South Africa . The purpose of the CAVES Grampian study is to provide policymakers with scenario analyses for land use change in the region over the medium term, based on computer-generated models of land use change processes. These models will be based on findings from interviews with agricultural land users, such as farmers and estate managers, as well as other agricultural industry members. The poster is an overview of the CAVES project proposal, and progress to date.

The research is being conducted by a partnership of seven research institutions: the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen; the Centre for Policy Modelling, Manchester Metropolitan University; Stockholm Environmental Institute, Oxford Office; Wissenschaftliches Zentrum für Umweltsystemforschung, Universität Kassel, Germany; Politchnika Wroclawska, Poland; the University of Wroclaw, Poland; and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria. CAVES is funded by the European Commission as part of the NEST Pathfinder Initiative `Tackling Complexity in Science.’

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Regional Infrastructure Foresight as a participatory tool for sustainable development of the sanitation sector

Eckhard Störmer, Annette Ruef, Bernhard Truffer

Eawag – Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Sciences, Switzerland

Successful operation of the sanitation sector is one important factor to guarantee the water quality which is a demand of the water framework directive. This sector is characterized by very long lasting investments in infrastructure (up to 80 years and longer) and public management organisation on a mostly fragmented level of communities. Within this system, long-time planning and the assessment of future developments are essential, but quite challenging because of the orientation of the key players at the technological paradigm and the political motivations and consequences of decisions. To meet this challenge, “Regional Infrastructure Foresight” ( RIF ) is developed as a methodology to support strategic decision making for sustainable infrastructure planning. The foresight approach shall empower local and regional authorities, technology developers and sanitation professionals to decide on mid- to long-term strategies for infrastructure development and to manage potentially sustainable innovations in a strategic way. RIF is therefore being seen as a proposal of a new method for regional governance, strategic planning and technology assessment. Based on an anticipatory problem analysis (with the identification of key problems and drivers for change) and innovation system analysis (analysis of socio-technical, organisational and institutional innovations and their evaluation by sustainability criteria) the methodology is a participatory foresight process with key actors and stakeholders of the communal sanitation system. It will be applied at three Swiss communities with typical problem profiles of the sanitation sector.

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Urban renovation and the challenges for public participation

Frans van der Woerd, Marleen van de Kerkhof, Matthijs Hisschemöller and Tjeerd Stam

Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)

Urban renovation projects provide a good opportunity to be combined with the implementation of options to save energy and/or reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide. This is also the case in the Amsterdam New West area, an area that was built in the 1950s and that houses 128.000 citizens in 60.000 dwellings. In 2002, local politics pronounced a 50% CO 2 reduction target in the period up to 2015. An important contribution to reaching this target will come from district heating based on residual heat of an existing waste incinerator. Contracts have been signed to install heat infrastructure in the year 2008.

As a part of the EU Ecostiler project, a Participatory Integrated Assessment (PIA) has been initiated to explore what are possible options for sustainable energy in Amsterdam New West. Major stakeholder groups to be involved are citizen’s organizations, housing corporations and urban district councils. In the preparation phase of the project, an interview round has been conducted with the major stakeholder groups. These interviews have revealed that the stakeholders have different positions on how to achieve 50% CO 2 reduction. The authorities have a strong drive towards district heating, citizen groups see several disadvantages of this option and consider a new heat monopolist with distrust, and the housing corporations are divided. All parties agree that, up to now, local citizens have hardly been involved in decision processes.

On the basis of the outcomes of the interviews, this paper will discuss a number of challenges with regard to the design and implementation of the dialogue process in the Amsterdam area. These challenges concern: the openness of the dialogue process, the lack of information on energy options, lack of trust among the public, competence of residents to participate meaningfully in the assessment, and the management of expectations.

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e2FocusGroup - A multimedia platform for virtual debates

Paulo Rosa1*, Gonçalo Lobo2, Ângela Guimarães Pereira3

1 European Commission – Joint Research Centre, Italy ; 2 New University of Lisbon , Portugal ; 3 European Commission – Joint Research Centre , Italy

* TP 361 - Via Enrico Fermi, 1. 21020 Ispra (VA), ITALY

Abstract   The e2FocusGroup is a multimedia platform that allows a small group of people to meet, through internet connection, in a virtual room and discuss a pre-defined subject or topic.   Each discussion group is composed of at least by one moderator and by several participants (ideally not more then twelve). The virtual room offers the participants the means for a successful debate.   The e2FocusGroup has the following features:   An area for Introductory Presentation, where the Organiser of the debate should include a short PowerPoint presentation about the issue under discussion. A Participants Table, where it is possible to see a graphical representation of all the people (moderators and participants) present in the debate. A Discussion Chat, where each participant can write his own opinion about the topic being debated. It’s in this area where the main discussion takes place. A Virtual Library, where is possible to store material and links essential for the debate. A Collaborative Whiteboard, where it’s possible to contribute with real time drawings.   In the oral session we will demonstrate all the functionalities of the e2FocusGroup platform and explain how they can be used with success in remote and distributed focus group sessions.

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