Science and Technology Policy
Knowledge, Life and Governance in Technoscientific Societies
Science and technology are central elements of modern societies. They have also become key actors in and topics of national and international policy. The professorship for Science and Technology Policy explores the multiple relationships between science, technology and policy that emerge in our increasingly technoscientific societies. We aim to understand particularly two aspects of this dynamic:
On the one hand, new scientific knowledge and technologies pose challenges to policymaking, e.g. with regard to regulation, possible implementation and issues of social and environmental justice and democratic processes. On the other hand, as science becomes an important cornerstone of contemporary societies and economies, policy increasingly seeks to steer and govern knowledge production, e.g. through practices of competitive and thematic funding and evaluation. The research group Science & Technology Policy at MCTS investigates these multiple relationships between policy and knowledge production in a number of empirical research projects. We explore these questions in a number of science and engineering fields, with a particular focus on the life sciences, an increasingly important research field regarding societal challenges in areas such as health, environment, food security and energy. Our research approach is anchored in the field of Science & Technology Studies (STS), while also drawing on conceptual and methodological resources from neighboring fields such as sociology, anthropology, and the philosophy and history of science. Currently, research projects are grouped along two major lines of research: Academic Knowledge Cultures in Transition, which seeks to understand how the current governance of science affects norms and values in academic communities and institutions, and hence knowledge production practices (Ruth Müller, Wolfgang Kaltenbrunner); and Emerging Knowledge Cultures in the Life Sciences, in which we explore how new knowledge and technologies from the life sciences interact with society and policy. In this second line of research we are currently investigating how novel approaches to gene-environment interaction from the field of epigenetics changes understandings of health, illness, environment and body, creating new research formations across disciplines, and opening up new possibilities and challenges for health care and environmental policy (Ruth Müller, Petra Beck, Georgia Samaras).