Category Archives: Conference


ECAST panel accepted for AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting: Serving Society Through Science Policy

This coming February in Boston, members of the Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology network (ECAST) will have a double session at the AAAS 2017 Annual meeting to talk about recent work extending the model for technology assessment to include broader public participation. Here’s a preview of the session and our invited speakers:

Adding the Citizen Voice:  Participatory Socio-Scientific Policy-Making

This session will focus on the practice and growth of participatory citizen policymaking, globally and increasingly in the US policy landscape. This method engages representative groups of everyday citizens, reflecting diverse and complementary societal perspectives, in considering and making substantive recommendations about policy-relevant issues that lie at the intersection of science and society to inform the development of public policies. A panel representing international practitioners working with the United Nations, US organizers, and the US government policy client perspective will present motivations, methods, tools, and results from selected local, national, and global citizen consultations on a variety of issues such as climate and energy policy, asteroid detection and defense, and nuclear waste siting. Presentations will address issues and considerations pertaining to the design and implementation of these citizen consultation, including: the translation and presentation of complex scientific and policy information for lay participant groups, the formulation of relevant and usable questions for citizen deliberation, transmission of participant recommendations to governmental authority, and interpretation and dissemination of outcomes and results. After learning about a range of previous ongoing models, attendees will brainstorm and recommend strategies, challenges, and opportunities for increasing the citizen voice in socio-scientific policymaking.



Darlene Cavalier

SciStarter, Discover Magazine, and Astronomy Magazine


David Sittenfeld

Manager, Forum Programs, Museum of Science


Gretchen Gano

Associate Director of Research University of California, Berkeley


 Amy Kaminski

Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Chief Scientist, NASA


Title: A Citizen Forum Case Study from the US Governmental Client Perspective

Talk Description: This talk will describe the motivations and present outcomes from the US governmental agency client perspective for a recent national-scale participatory citizen consultation activity. A senior policy advisor who engaged the network to design and implement two citizen forums for public input will share her perspective and reflections on the process and recommend future directions.



Yves Mathieu

Founder/Director, Mission Publiques

A European practitioner will present results, methods, data and outcomes from a number of global citizen deliberations that provided public input to the United Nations and the European Space Agency. These events have engaged thousands of lay-citizens in making recommendations to share with policymakers about their priorities and values.  Methods for engagement, dissemination, and translation of results will be presented and discussed, along with plans for future citizen consultations.



David Sittenfeld

Manager, Forum Programs, Museum of Science


Panel on “Translating CRISPR research to societal uses”


This week I moderated a panel at UC Davis as a part of the CRISPR Technology: Responsible Discourse about Science & Bioethics symposium at UC Davis hosted by the UC North Bioethics Collaboratory.

Speakers included Alta Charo (University of Wisconsin), Jacob CornŸ (Innovative Genomics Initiative), Hank Greely (Stanford University), Ben HurlbutŸ (Arizona State University), Eben Kirksey (University of New South Wales), Paul Knoepfler(ŸUC Davis), Meaghan O’Keefe (ŸUC Davis), Sarah PerraultŸ (UC Davis), Ken Taymor(UC Berkeley), Patricia Williams (Columbia University) and Michael J. Zerbe (York College of Pennsylvania).

Panel at AAAS Communicating Science Seminar

AAASThis week I engage with colleagues Kristala Prather (MIT), Natalie Kuldell (BioBuilder Educational Foundation), and Dietram Scheufele (UWISC) and moderator Andrew Maynard (ASU) in the Communicating Synthetic Biology panel where we will dig into strategies for communicating about synthetic biology, including best practices for scientists engaging with public audiences.

Livestream of the Communicating Science Seminar panels will be available, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, February 11. Submit questions by tweeting @MeetAScientist with #AAASmtg.

CFP: Critical Data Studies Track for 4S/EASST Conference 2016

ARTSTOR_103_41822001641248I and CSTMS affiliates and collaborators are organizing a thematic track on Critical Data Studies for the 4s/EASST Conference BCN-2106 Science + technology by other means: Exploring collectives, spaces and futures in Barcelona, August 31 – September 3, 2016. We invite papers investigating data­ driven techniques in academic research and analytic industries and the consequences of implementing data­ driven products and processes. Papers utilizing computational methods or ethnography with theorization of technology, social power, or politics are encouraged. See full details here to submit by Feb 22.


Futurescape City Tours at the 4S Making and Doing program

The Futurescape City Tours project is an entry in the new Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S) Making and Doing program. The STS Making and Doing Program aims at encouraging 4S members to share scholarly practices of participation, engagement, and intervention in their fields of study. It highlights scholarly practices for producing and expressing STS knowledge and expertise that extend beyond the academic paper or book. The initiative seeks to improve the effectiveness and influence of STS scholarship beyond the field and/or to expand the modes of STS knowledge production.

We submitted the project under the Visual and Sensory Approaches category: STS projects that resulted in effective artistic creations, including those in audio-visual format or in public installations, exhibits, and performances.

Scientific and social assessment of emerging technologies at S.Net Conference


This week I presented in the “scientific and social assessment of emerging technologies for a sustainable society track” with colleagues at the S.Net Conference 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. My paper, “A Novel Architecture for Anticipatory Risk Assessment of Emerging Biotechnologies: the Building with Biology Case”,  reported preliminary results of research on public views about emerging biotechnologies focused on pilot events called  “Building with Biology” in eight U.S. Science Museums. Under a 3-year NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Award #1421179 the project, entitled Multi-Site Public Engagement with Science – Synthetic Biology (MSPES), models a novel institutional and programmatic architecture for public deliberation about novel biotechnologies.

This exciting project catalyzes complex multi-directional exchange between publics and expert communities by convening conversations among scientists, engineers, and public audiences around the societal implications of engineering biology. There are eight pilot sites in 2015 and two hundred sites planned for the summer of 2016. The public views component of this research captures information about public responses, opinions, associations, and perceptions with respect to synthetic biology from publics that have come into contact with MSPES project activities.

I ask: What knowledge, awareness and understanding do publics develop about synthetic biology through their public engagement experiences in the MSPES project? What types of institutional, programmatic, and interpersonal relationships and interactions faciliate mutual exchange and learning about the societal context of this emerging area of biotechnology in expert and non-specialist publics?

Workshop on Research Agendas in the Societal Aspects of Synthetic Biology


I attended this invitation only workshop on synthetic biology in Tempe, AZ on November 4-6. The workshop brought together a large segment of social scientists and humanists, along with natural scientists and engineers, working in synthetic biology. Three NSF directorates co-funded the workshop: biology, engineering and social, behavioral and economic (SBE) sciences, NSF award #1445903.

Kick off meeting at ASTC: Multi-Site Public Engagement with Science – Synthetic Biology (MSPES)

content_mapI attended the kick off meeting for the NSF funded MPES project at the annual meeting of the Association for Science Technology Centers. The aim of this three year project is to create conversations in science museums among scientists, engineers, and public audiences about an emerging research field, synthetic biology. Synthetic biology applies science and engineering to create new biological systems, and re-design existing biological systems, for useful purposes.

This is an important new area of research and development that raises societal
questions about potential benefits, costs, and risks. Conversations between
researchers and public audiences will focus not only on what synthetic biology is
and how research in the field is carried out, but also on the potential products,
outcomes, and implications for society of this work. Researchers and publics will
explore personal and societal values and priorities as well as desired research
outcomes so that both groups can learn from each other. Public participants will
benefit from knowing about this field of research, and researchers will benefit from
hearing public perspectives directly from the public participants. This project will
be led by the Museum of Science with partners at the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center, the
Science Museum of Minnesota, the Ithaca Sciencenter, and several other universities
and science museums. It is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based
understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal
environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to
and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on
and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing
understandings of deeper learning by participants.

This project is aimed at pushing beyond traditional modes of communicating with
public audiences rooted in “public understanding of science” modalities into the
mechanisms and perspectives associated with “public engagement with science”
(PES). The project will support informal educational institutions as facilitators of
such PES activities through which mutual learning takes place among research
experts and various publics. Formative evaluation will support the development of
evaluation tools that practitioners can use themselves to measure impacts of public
engagement activities on both scientist and public participants.

4S Open Panel — Minority Report: The Fall and Rise of Critical Technology Studies

Ben Brucato (RPI) and I chaired an open panel at the Joint Meeting of Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) and Sociedad Latinoamericana de Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y la Tecnología (ESOCITE) this year called Minority Report: The Fall and Rise of Critical Technology Studies.
Here is the original abstract and a link to the project’s website. We are in the process of editing a journal special issue on this topic.


ABSTRACT: Technology Studies aims to render technology comprehensible in historical, social, and political terms. A subset of this work we call Critical Technology Studies (CTS), holds that technologies are forms-of-life with intrinsic features that produce or merge with certain political and social arrangements. Under this premise, technologies are not like a hammer that can used and put down at will; instead they represent a kind of embedded legislation that structures human behavior and ideas (Winner 1986). Central CTS thinkers such as Lewis Mumford, Jacques Ellul, Langdon Winner and others not traditionally cited in STS such as Verbeek and Borgmann have given us a framework to interrogate how technical demands can overrule capacities for civic comprehension and democratic control of complex technologies. Counter to the social constructivist narrative that relevant actors are ever busy negotiating our technological reality, CTS suggests that pervasive technological systems can tightly constrain and sometimes confound social and political action.

Although STS owes an intellectual debt to the trailblazing works of CTS, its key contributors’ methods and insights are marginalized in the field today. In an interdiscipline where scholarship is often embedded in its scientific and technical focus, with many in our ranks enrolled in the innovation enterprise, the time is ripe for a minority report on Critical Technology Studies. Organizers invite contributions that unpack and challenge the view that critical technology scholarship is merely anti-technological Luddism grounded in sidelined arguments of determinism.


Invited Speaker on Public Engagement at the Gordon Research Conference on Science & Technology Policy

grcThis year’s theme is Systems Approaches to Research and Practicemy panel with Daniel Kleinman, Ann Bostrom and David Berube was entitled “Public and Policy Feedback: S&T Communication and Engagement”. My talk, “Imag(in)ing Futures: Engaging Urban Publics” reported on the Futurescape City Tours model of public engagement.

dangerous copyI first outlined contestations about contemporary models of S&T engagement. I then introduced the most recent large-scale public engagement exercise by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University called Futurescape City Tours which uses experimental public dialog methods. I asserted that there is value in instrumentalized S&T engagement as a mechanism for capacity building and illustrated this by reporting on new efforts to build a network for participatory technology assessment in the US.