Citizen Science: A Study of People, Expertise, and Sustainable Development

By Alan Irwin | Go to book overview

6

BUILDING SUSTAINABLE FUTURES: SCIENCE SHOPS AND SOCIAL EXPERIMENTS

The discussion (about social and technological development) that has begun in the offices of scientific consultants to government agencies basically has to be transferred to the broader political forum of the general public. The same holds for the dialogue now going on between scientists and politicians about the formulation of a long-term research policy.

(Habermas) 1

How do we combine the benefits of specialized knowledge and expertise with life in a sector where no group is unduly dominant, no group unduly pressed upon by another? . . . It is a problem which neither Habermas nor anyone else has even begun to solve, even at the level of theory. It could indeed be that the problem is an insoluble one. 2

It’s the first time anybody bothered asking us how we felt.

(Native spokesperson at the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry) 3

The previous two chapters have stood conventional models of science-citizen interactions on their head; rather than simply problematizing public ignorance, we have asked questions about science and the limits to its application within real-world situations. As was argued in Chapter 3, however, prevailing approaches to policymaking have characteristically been based on a set of assumptions which place science at their very core. The public are seated ringside but certainly not at the centre of the environmental action - at least so far as ‘official’ decision-making processes are concerned.

Of course, important international documents like the Brundtland Report (or Our Common Future which sought to provide a new

-135-

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Citizen Science: A Study of People, Expertise, and Sustainable Development
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Science and Citizenship 9
  • 2 - Science, Citizens and Environmental Threat 37
  • 3 - Science and the Policy Process 62
  • 4 - Witnesses, Participants and Major Accident Hazards 81
  • 5 - Freeing the Voices: a Science of the People? 105
  • 6 - Building Sustainable Futures: Science Shops and Social Experiments 135
  • 7 - Science, Citizenship and Troubled Modernity 168
  • Notes 183
  • Index 196
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