UNDERSTANDING SCIENCE MEDIA AND PUBLIC POLICY
UNDERSTANDING SCIENCE, MEDIA AND PUBLIC POLICY IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Prof Steve Fuller
This module aims to provide a critical survey of the main theoretical perspectives on the relationship between science, media and public policy.
Drawing on resources from history, philosophy and social studies of science, as well as recent social theory, this module surveys and critiques various frameworks for conceptualising the relationship between science, media and public policy. Among the topics covered include: science’s public accountability, science and social divisions, the role of peer review in authorising scientific knowledge, the comparative demands of scientific and journalistic inquiry, the role of public relations in science, the idea of science as a cultural product, media’s duty to educate, inform and entertain the public about science, scientists as political advisors, actors and advocates, the idea of the citizen-scientist, the role of new media as both information resource and research site for science. Emphasis will be placed on the two-way influence of theory and practice, as well as the challenges posed by the representation of specific types of scientific knowledge in specific media. This term’s module will pay special attention to changing media representations of ‘humanity’ -- including trans/posthumanity – in light of recent developments in science and technology, focusing on practices of ‘anticipatory governance’, whereby the public come to be mentally prepared for the prospect of quite radical innovation. There may be relevant external guest speakers.
The module is part of a two-module core sequence for the MSc in Science, Media and Public Policy (the other core module is 'Researching Science, Media and Public Policy in the 21st Century').
MODULE STRUCTURE AND REQUIREMENTS: 2-hour contact per week for 10 week term. Students are not expected to have a formal background in science or media. During the term, students will produce a 750 word Essay Plan (formative assessment) as preparation for a 5,000 word Assessed Essay (summative assessment).
TENTATIVE WEEKLY READING PLAN
Week 1: History of Science. T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions; J.D. Bernal, Science in History.
Week 2: Philosophy of Science. I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave, eds. Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge; S. Fuller, The Philosophy of Science and Technology Studies.
Week 3: Sociology of Science. S. Shapin & S. Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air Pump; B. Latour, Science in Action
Week 4: Scientists on the Nature of Science: Selections from Francis Bacon, William Whewell, Ernst Mach, Max Planck, JB Conant, Donna Haraway, Evelyn Fox Keller.
Week 5: History of Science Popularisation: Selections from HG Wells, Waldemar Kaempffert, JG Crowther, John Horgan, Robert Wright, Chris Mooney.
Week 6: Two Cultures? Science’s Problems with the Larger Culture: L. Wolpert, The Unnatural Nature of Science; S. Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory; S. Weinberg, Science and its Cultural Adversaries; A. Ross, ed. The Science Wars; A. Sokal, The Sokal Hoax.
Week 7: Problems of Science Policy in the Cold War and Post-Cold war Era: V. Bush, Science: The Endless Frontier; D. deS. Price, Little Science, Big Science; S. Fuller, The Governance of Science.
Week 8: Scientific Expertise v. Liberal Democracy: S. Jasanoff, The Fifth Branch; S. Jasanoff, Designs on Nature; S. Turner, Liberal Democracy 3.0.
Week 9: Science and Changing Conceptions of Humanity: DM Berry, The Philosophy of Software; S. Fuller, Science: The Art of Living, S. Fuller, Humanity 2.0.
Week 10: Shaping Future Expectations of Science: Selections from D. Cheng et al., eds., Communicating Science in Social Contexts: New Models, New Practices; D. Barben et al., ‘Anticipatory Governance and Nanotechnology’; J. Hope, Biobazaar.
SAMPLE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY (Refers to above)
Bacon, F. Novum Organum. (Classic 17th century statement of the scientific method as a vehicle for both discovery and power)
Barben, D. et al., ‘Anticipatory Governance and Nanotechnology’ (on how people’s opinions are studied and shaped to enable acceptance of new science and technology)
Bernal, J.D. Science in History. (4 volume Marxist social history of science)
Berry, DM, The Philosophy of Software. (How information and communication technologies are changing our sense of who we are)
Bush, V. Science: The Endless Frontier (Most influential science policy text of the post-war era)
Cheng, D. et al., eds., Communicating Science in Social Contexts: New Models, New Practices. (Recent international survey of science-media relations, including China)
Conant, JB, Science and Common Sense (classic statement of the distinctiveness of the scientific world-view, influential on Kuhn)
Crowther, JG Collected articles. (UK’s first dedicated science journalist, suspicious of science’s involvement in the ‘military-industrial complex’)
De S. Price, D. Little Science, Big Science (classic statement of science metrics and their relationship to other social indicators)
Fuller, S. Humanity 2.0 (on past, present and future conceptions of what it means to be human)
Fuller, S. Kuhn vs Popper (cultural context of the 20th century’s most important debate in the philosophy of science)
Fuller, S, Science: The Art of Living (on science’s deep and continuing relations with theology)
Fuller, S. The Governance of Science (the problems of governing ‘big science’ in a democratic society)
Fuller, S. The Philosophy of Science and Technology Studies (on the significance of the ‘science wars’ for science studies)
Haraway, D. Simians, Cyborgs, Women (classic statement of women as ‘boundary objects’ in science)
Hope, J. Biobazaar (on ‘do it yourself biology’ as an emerging citizen-based science pursued for both fun and profit)
Horgan, J The End of Science. (on the increasing migration of scientific research from the field and the lab to computer models)
Jasanoff, S. Designs on Nature (comparative treatment of biotechnology legislation and reporting in several countries)
Jasanoff, S. The Fifth Branch (science’s entanglements with legal cases, esp. in US)
Kaempffert, W. Collected articles. (US’s first dedicated science journalist, active in the science museum movement)
Keller, EF. Reflections on Science and Gender (on the effects of male/female psychodynamics on scientific conduct)
Kuhn, T.S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (most influential work on the nature of science in the 2nd half of the 20th century)
Lakatos, I. & A. Musgrave, eds. Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge (Influential set of essays on the history and philosophy of science, including Kuhn, Popper)
Latour, B. Science in Action (popular and influential methods book in science studies)
Mach, E. Popular Lectures (late 19th century attempt to define the limits of science’s capacity to inform life
Mooney, C. The Republican War on Science (recent US politicisation of science across a wide range of topics)
Planck, M. A Scientific Autobiography (famous articulation of the thesis that paradigm change requires generation change)
Ross, A. ed. The Science Wars (key papers from the science wars)
Shapin, S. & S. Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air Pump (exemplary history of a famous 17th century to distinguish science from non-science)
Sokal, A. The Sokal Hoax (aftermath of the science wars)
Turner, S. Liberal Democracy 3.0 (on shifting attitudes to scientific experts in democracies)
Weinberg, S. Dreams of a Final Theory (popular science from a defender of big physics)
Weinberg, S. Science and its Cultural Adversaries (reflections on the science wars)
Wells, HG, The Shape of Things to Come (pioneering use of science fiction as science forecasting)
Whewell, W. The History of Inductive Sciences (leading 19th century account of the rise of science, with Newton as centrepiece)
Wolpert, L. The Unnatural Nature of Science (updated version of Conant’s thesis, written in light of the science wars)
Wright, R. Non-Zero (interesting attempt to use science popularisation as a vehicle for advancing an ambitious evolutionary thesis)