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See detailA Debate on Responsible Research and Innovation
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

Conference (2014, November 20)

In the space of just a few years the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), or in Dutch Maatschappelijk verantwoord innoveren (MVI), has gained considerable ground: NWO has an MVI-program ... [more ▼]

In the space of just a few years the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), or in Dutch Maatschappelijk verantwoord innoveren (MVI), has gained considerable ground: NWO has an MVI-program that has so far funded three rounds of research proposals; Horizon 2020 regularly refers to RRI; and there is now a new journal devoted to RRI. In this panel we focus on the following questions: • How could the concept become so popular in such a relatively short time? • What, if anything, is new in RRI, when we compare it to e.g. CTA, participatory TA, Public Engagement, etc? • If we want to make research and innovation more responsible and responsive to society’s needs, what are the opportunities and obstacles? • What are the conditions for successful mainstreaming of RRI? Panel members Frank Kupper (Athena Institute) Hub Zwart (Centre for Society and the Life Scences), Michiel van Oudheusden (author of a dissertation on Flemish RRI initiatives), and Tsjalling Swierstra (co-founder of the Journal for RI) share their thoughts with colleagues in the audience. [less ▲]

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See detailCitizen Science: algemeen kader, modellen en mogelijkheden
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

Conference given outside the academic context (2014)

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See detailScience and Technology into Sports: The Flemish Sports Compass
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

Conference (2014, September 19)

Sports are increasingly shaped by science and technology. Sportspersons now routinely operate in an environment consisting of devices, data flows, laboratories, and scientists. While governments, research ... [more ▼]

Sports are increasingly shaped by science and technology. Sportspersons now routinely operate in an environment consisting of devices, data flows, laboratories, and scientists. While governments, research industries, and many scientists across the world promote the integration of science and technology into sports as a means of inspiring innovation in sports, how this integration is achieved has not been systematically investigated. To remedy this shortcoming in science and technology studies (STS) and to grasp how science, technology, and sports are mutually attuned in everyday situations, this paper examines a sociotechnical device developed by scientists in Flanders (Belgium) popularly known as the ‘sports compass’ (sportkinelab.be/sportkompas). As the sports compass is designed to detect and develop sports talent in young children through standardized physical trials, it is used in the Flemish sports field. Drawing on ethnographic methods and on preliminary interviews with sports compass developers and users (scientists, children, parents), the paper argues that the compass’s solidity as a scientific conduit for talent is disrupted by the multiple social aims it serves (e.g. sports participation, striving for excellence) and the multiple expectations it elicits. Accordingly, multiple solidarities and shifting alliances can be discerned between technology developments and uses, devices and humans, and between research institutes, schools, and sports organizations. The paper’s findings serve to open a discussion both on the meaning and viability of talent detection among children and sportspersons, and on sports and innovation policies designed to render sports more scientific and technological. [less ▲]

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See detailIntroducing the Belgian Science and Technology Studies Network (BSTS)
Meyers, Gert; Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg; Thoreau, François ULg et al

Poster (2014, September)

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See detailLet's Talk Ambiguity: Citizen science in new and emerging technologies
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

Conference (2014, July 04)

Citizen science (CS) is a fairly new concept that is rapidly gaining traction in the industrialized democratic world. Although it is often likened to public participation in science, CS takes on many ... [more ▼]

Citizen science (CS) is a fairly new concept that is rapidly gaining traction in the industrialized democratic world. Although it is often likened to public participation in science, CS takes on many forms and orientations. In this presentation, I link CS developments and practices to the advent of new and emerging technologies (NEST), such as bio- and nanotechnologies. I draw on three Flemish cases of CS linked to NEST to illustrate how CS co-evolves with Flemish and European policy shifts towards responsible innovation governance. The cases serve to highlight how various conceptions of CS enact divergent rationales for public involvement in science and promote competing visions of the volatile relationship between science and society. The clash of CS perspectives within and through NEST produces a highly ambiguous innovation context that is simultaneously characterized by excitement and (pre)caution; public and formal expertise; policy dictates and public dialogue; and deterministic and constructionist views of innovation. How implicated actors (policymakers, scientists, citizens, and other stakeholders) make sense of, and deal with, these ambiguities is one of the key challenges CS faces today. [less ▲]

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See detailFlanders Ahead… Wallonia Behind (But Catching Up). Reconstructing Communities through Science, Technology, and Innovation Policymaking
Charlier, Nathan ULg; Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

Conference (2014, June)

Abstract Drawing on a documentary analysis of two socio-economic policy programs, one Flemish (“Vlaanderen In Actie”; VIA), the other Walloon (“Marshall Plans”; MPs), and a discourse analysis of how these ... [more ▼]

Abstract Drawing on a documentary analysis of two socio-economic policy programs, one Flemish (“Vlaanderen In Actie”; VIA), the other Walloon (“Marshall Plans”; MPs), and a discourse analysis of how these programs are received in one Flemish and one Francophone quality newspaper, this paper illustrates how Flanders and Wallonia both seek to become top-performing knowledge-based economies (KBEs). The paper discerns a number of discursive repertoires, such as “Catching up,” which Flemish and Walloon policy actors draw on to legitimize or question the transformation of Flanders and Wallonia into KBEs. The “Catching up” repertoire places Flanders resolutely ahead of Wallonia in the global race towards knowledge, excellence, and science-driven innovation, but suggests that Wallonia may, in due course overtake Flanders as a top-competitive region. Given the expectations and/or fears that “Catching up” evokes among Flemish and Walloon policy actors, the repertoire serves these actors as a flexible discursive resource to make sense of, and shape, their collective futures, and thus their identities. By rendering explicit how Flanders and Wallonia each acquire a distinct identity through the global KBE, the paper underlines the simultaneity of, and the interplay between, globalizing forces and particularizing tendencies and illuminates the political, nation-building and identity-building functions of science, technology, and innovation. The paper starts from the following preliminary observations. While both the VIA plan and the MPs emphasize the need of transforming Flanders and Wallonia into KBEs in order meet the demands of globalization (OECD 1996), the plans adopt a different tone and stance. The Flemish plan repeatedly states the need of transforming Flanders into “a top region, not only in Europe, but in the world, particularly in the social and economic field” (VIA, 2006: 4). It also states that Flanders is already prosperous and already has many strengths, but that the welfare and prosperity of Flanders are “under threat” in a “challenging global economic environment” (2). The message is thus that Flanders is doing relatively well in the global economy, but that it must do even better if it is to maintain its competitive edge and its welfare. By contrast, the MP is framed from the perspective of Walloon recovery and “redressement.” Although the term “Marshall Plan” evidently brings to mind the European Recovery Program for rebuilding Western Europe after World War II, recovery also refers to the period of prosperity before the World Wars, when Wallonia was one of the most economically advanced industrial regions in Europe. The MP suggests that Wallonia’s glorious past (“le passé glorieux”) can be rewon, if the Walloons deploy every tool they can muster and work together to “relaunch” the Walloon economy (3). To incite joint action, the MP urges the Walloons to become the architects of their own fate. This aspiration is clearly expressed in the opening sentence of the first MP plan: “The federalization [of Belgium; by which is meant the regionalization of policy and competences] bestows the Walloons with political autonomy, which renders them responsible for their own destiny.” At the same time, this statement reads as a call to independence, as the Walloons are bestowed with political autonomy (by the Flemings, who have repeatedly pushed for the dismantling of Belgium as a unitary state). As the above excerpts from the Flemish and Walloon policy plans indicate, VIA and the MPs characterize a state of political and economic affairs, take position in relation to these affairs, and, most importantly, envision a prosperous future for the Flemish and Walloon region, respectively. The plans are thus driven by expectations, visions and values, as well as fears. They mobilize arguments, explanations, evaluations, descriptions and prescriptions, sometimes by drawing on tropes or stereotypes, anecdotes, and illustrations. As the plans also indicate, transforming Flanders and Wallonia into top KBE regions does not happen by itself. For instance, while the VIA plan describes Flemings as entrepreneurs, it also states that “we must dare to be entrepreneurial” (3). Similary, the MP urges Walloon citizens to change their “état d’esprit” or mindset, if economic growth is to ensue (3). Thus, identity construction and transformation are in order both in Flanders and in Wallonia. The above observations serve as starting points for our media analysis. As we want to know whether, and how, these particular conceptions of the nation/region are picked up in press reporting on STI policies, we ask the following interrelated questions: How are the Flemish (VIA) and Walloon STI policies (MPs) received in the Flemish and Francophone press? Do we discern in the press the same notions of identity as in the policy programs? Are these notions reproduced, problematized or transformed? If so, in what ways? What does this mean for Flemish and Walloon identity construction, and for the construction of “Belgium” at large? Recognizing the role of “institutions of power” (e.g. language, media, technologies) in articulating nationalism (Anderson 1991: 163; Billig 1995: 11), our analysis conceives of journalists and the press as potential policy agenda setters and opinion makers, as the press potentially reproduces and redefines political identities. As this paper will illustrate, the Flemish and Francophone press speak out on issues of collective identity and also offer various policymakers a platform to express their views on regional economic development, STI, and the state. Thus, from our perspective, policymaking is not only the prerogative of mandated policymakers, but of journalists and other opinion leaders (e.g. captains of industry) as well (Lenschow & Sprungk 2010). To enable analysis, we draw on a range of literatures, including science and technology studies, discourse analysis, and media analyses. Our approach is interpretive and interactionist, as it assumes that realities (e.g. identities, nations, as well as practices and materialities) are socially constructed rather than exist as objective phenomenon that can be discovered through empirical testing (Fischer 2003: 118). Hence, we ask how identity is created, structured, maintained, or conversely deconstructed, resisted, and challenged. Our aim is thus not to uncover an objective reality behind identity, but to understand how identities are collectively made and remade on a continuous basis. To this end, we draw on the notion of “coproduction” (Jasanoff 2006: 2) to empirically demonstrate how STI and nationalism are “coproduced” through technoscientific practices (Felt 2013). In what follows, we first present, discuss, and situate Flemish and Walloon STI policies in time and place, as a means of contextualizing the “nationalisms” inscribed in the VIA plan and MPs. Next, we present our methodological framework for discourse and media analysis, our data, and key findings. Upon drawing together these findings, we single out the storyline of “Catching up” as an important discursive backdrop against which processes of collective identity construction play out through STI policymaking and press reporting. We conclude by tying our findings into a broader discussion about the place of Belgium in Europe and the world, as nation states are constantly (re)defined in terms of their constituent segments and overarching structures, including the KBE. The paper’s topics resonate with the overall conference theme and specifically tie into the following conference strands: • Policy emergence, implementation, diffusion and transfer • National science policies and the global scientific enterprise • The multi-level governance of research and innovation and the challenge of co-ordination Keywords: Flanders, Identity, Knowledge-based economy, Science and technology policy, Wallonia. References Anderson, B. (1991), Imagined Communities. Reflection on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London, Verso. Billig, M. (1995), Banal Nationalism. London, Sage. Felt, U. (2013), “Keeping Technologies Out: Sociotechnical imaginaries and the formation of a national technopolitical identity,” Pre-print; Published by the Department of Social Studies of Science, University of Vienna, February 2013; http://sciencestudies.univie.ac.at/publications Fischer, F. (2003), Reframing Public Policy. Discursive Politics and Deliberative Practices. Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press. Flanders in Action (VIA); www.vlaandereninactie.be Jasanoff, S. 2006. The idiom of co-production. In: Jasanoff, S., Ed., States of Knowledge. The Coproduction of Science and Social Order. New York, Routledge, 1-12. Lenschow, A. & Sprungk, C. (2010), “The Myth of a Green Europe,” Journal of Common Market Studies, 48(1), 133-154. OECD (1996), The Knowledge Based Economy, OECD/GD, (96)102. Plan Marshall (MP); http://www.wallonie.be/fr/actualites/plan-marshall-2022 [less ▲]

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See detailWhere are the politics in responsible innovation? European governance, technology assessments, and beyond
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

in Journal of Responsible Innovation (2014), 1(1), 67-86

Responsible innovation (RI) is founded on the idea that present modes of innovating with science and technology fail because they insufficiently take into account societal needs and values. Hence ... [more ▼]

Responsible innovation (RI) is founded on the idea that present modes of innovating with science and technology fail because they insufficiently take into account societal needs and values. Hence, proponents of RI solicit society's opinions in an attempt to render science and technology developments, institutions, and policies more socially responsive. This article asks how the RI concept is taken up and elaborated, based on accounts developed on the EU policy level and on a Flemish, technology assessment level. It finds that, notwithstanding important differences between these two deliberative frameworks, neither one leaves much room for politics, understood as the constitution and contestation of power. Rather, these frameworks largely ignore questions about the politics in and of deliberation, the authoritative allocation of values, and the institutional uptake of deliberative engagements. The article's aim is to provide constructive criticism of the RI paradigm by rendering these political issues explicit and proposing ways of taking them into account. [less ▲]

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See detailLearning in, through, and about participatory technology assessment: The case of nanotechnologies for tomorrow's society (NanoSoc)
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

in Technology Analysis & Strategic Management (2014)

In participatory technology assessment (pTA), technical and nontechnical communities convene to share their views on a sociotechnical challenge, in an attempt to render technology research and development ... [more ▼]

In participatory technology assessment (pTA), technical and nontechnical communities convene to share their views on a sociotechnical challenge, in an attempt to render technology research and development more socially robust. Taking these commitments to transdisciplinary collaboration and co-construction of technology as entry points, this article describes key tensions that emerged in a Flemish pTA project on nanotechnologies, entitled ‘Nanotechnologies for Tomorrow’s Society’ (NanoSoc). The tensions pertain to how the terms of participation were enacted, the potentially conflicting aims embedded in the project’s mission and methods, the various roles initiating pTA researchers (social scientists) assumed throughout the project’s duration, and the deliberative-democratic rationale that sustains pTA frameworks at large. The article is a response to a pressing question posed to the author by pTA professionals, project participants, and policymakers who ask publics to partake in science and technology decision making: Now that NanoSoc is terminated, what can we learn from it? [less ▲]

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See detailFlanders Ahead... Wallonia Behind (But Catching Up). The Identity Politics of Science, Technology, and Innovation in Belgium
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg; Charlier, Nathan ULg; Rosskamp, Benedikt ULg et al

Conference (2013, October 18)

Drawing on a documentary analysis of two socio-economic policy programs, one Flemish (“Vlaanderen In Actie”), the other Walloon (“Marshall Plans”), and a discourse analysis of how these programs are ... [more ▼]

Drawing on a documentary analysis of two socio-economic policy programs, one Flemish (“Vlaanderen In Actie”), the other Walloon (“Marshall Plans”), and a discourse analysis of how these programs are received in one Flemish and one Francophone quality newspaper, this paper illustrates how Flanders and Wallonia both seek to become top-performing knowledge-based economies (KBEs). The paper discerns a number of discursive repertoires, such as “Catching up,” which policy actors draw on to legitimize or question the transformation of Flanders and Wallonia into KBEs. The “Catching up” repertoire places Flanders resolutely ahead of Wallonia in the global race towards knowledge, excellence, and growth, but suggests that Wallonia may, in due course, overtake Flanders as a top competitive region. Given the expectations and/or fears that “Catching up” evokes among Flemish and Walloon policy actors, the repertoire serves these actors as a flexible discursive resource to make sense of, and shape, their collective futures, and thus their identities. The primary aim of the paper is to underline the simultaneity of, and the interplay between, globalizing forces and particularizing tendencies, as Flanders and Wallonia develop with a global KBE in nation- or region-specific ways. [less ▲]

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See detailWhere are the politics in responsible innovation? European governance, technology assessments, and beyond
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg; Charlier, Nathan ULg

Conference (2013, September 13)

Responsible innovation (RI) is founded on the idea that the introduction and adoption of technology in society fails when technologies do not reflect societal needs and values. Hence, proponents of RI ... [more ▼]

Responsible innovation (RI) is founded on the idea that the introduction and adoption of technology in society fails when technologies do not reflect societal needs and values. Hence, proponents of RI solicit society’s opinions in an attempt to render technology developments and policies more socially responsive. Solicitation typically takes the form of broad consultations involving as many relevant stakeholders as possible, in ways that enhance inclusiveness, transparency, and deliberation. This paper asks how the RI concept is taken up and elaborated, based on accounts developed on the EU policy level and on a local, Flemish, technology assessment level. It finds that, notwithstanding important differences between these two deliberative frameworks, neither one leaves much room for politics, understood as the constitution and contestation of power. Rather, these frameworks largely ignore questions about the politics in deliberation (e.g. how actors craft RI through strategic use of argument and other advantage-seeking techniques), as well as the politics of deliberation (i.e. how RI privileges a process definition of democracy at the cost of participatory and representative perspectives). In addition, these frameworks forsake questions about the authoritative allocation of values (as in formalized, representative politics) and the institutional uptake of deliberative engagements more broadly. The paper’s aim is to provide a constructive criticism of the RI paradigm by rendering the above political issues explicit and proposing ways of taking them into account. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentité et nation : un tabou francophone ?
Charlier, Nathan ULg; Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg; Claisse, Frédéric ULg

Article for general public (2013)

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See detailGovernance in Japan and Belgium: Building on Experiments with Technology Assessment and TA-like Activities
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg; Yoshizawa, Go

Poster (2013, July 15)

This poster presents a bilateral Belgian-Japanese research study that probes the direction and quality of science and technology governance within the context of new knowledge production and responsible ... [more ▼]

This poster presents a bilateral Belgian-Japanese research study that probes the direction and quality of science and technology governance within the context of new knowledge production and responsible innovation. Drawing on recent experiences with technology assessment (TA) and TA-like activities in the regions of Flanders and Wallonia (Belgium) and the country of Japan, it asks how future-oriented science and technology governance processes are locally enacted and how they compare. Four research objectives are discerned: 1. To describe how TA concepts and practices, as well as related TA activities, have emerged in Japan, Wallonia, and Flanders since the 1960s-70s, and in what particular forms. 2. To describe how TA has evolved with, sustained, and/or countered, science, technology, and innovation policies on the regional, national, and international level. 3. To compare and contrast how TA is, or is not, institutionalized in the countries and regions, notably by taking into account initiatives to initiate or abolish parliamentary TA forms. 4. To situate the processes that are discerned through empirical analysis within a broader theory of, and movement towards anticipatory governance, and to assess the potential of TA of enhancing novel governance forms. The poster situates science, technology, and innovation policies in Japan and Belgium within the global shift towards a knowledge-based economy and the emergence of new science policy regimes, such as “strategic science” (Rip, 2002). Building on several TA case examples, it explains how the need for TA in science and technology emerges and is developed within distinctly different innovation contexts. The poster describes the project’s methodologies, working plan, and expected results, and provides suggestions for rendering comparative TA analysis useful to science policymakers and innovation actors, as well as to science and technology studies scholars. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Politics of Independence and Neutrality: The Dismantling of the Flemish Institute for Society and Technology, IST
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

Conference (2013, July 04)

In 2011, the Flemish Parliament announced that it would restructure three of four “paraparliamentary institutes” (PPIs) that advise and inform its Members of Parliament. This paper explores how the ... [more ▼]

In 2011, the Flemish Parliament announced that it would restructure three of four “paraparliamentary institutes” (PPIs) that advise and inform its Members of Parliament. This paper explores how the institutional restructuring of the PPIs was achieved. Taking the Flemish PPI for Society and Technology (IST) as primary focus, it indicates how a political working group decided on the agency’s future behind closed doors and the media paid considerably more attention to the plight of the other PPIs. Drawing on interviews with key actors (politicians, PPI staff members, journalists, among others) and public and private documentary sources, the paper offers a range of possible explanations for why the IST remained out of the public spotlight, as well as why, in the end, the IST was the only PPI to be abolished. It ties these considerations into a larger debate about the principles of political independence and neutrality, which all PPIs are assumed to uphold, but which PPIs interpret and enact differently. It argues that to earn and sustain a reputation as an independent agency, the IST repeatedly steered away from taking a stance on technoscientific issues. As a consequence, and in spite of its mission of opening science and scientific processes to public debate, the IST was unable to develop and articulate a critique of the politics of science policy. Nor did it position itself in relation to the discourses and mechanisms that sought to contain it, including neoliberal narratives and the IST’s strong connection to parties on the left side of the political spectrum. By rendering these narratives and connections explicit, the paper draws attention to the multiple, potentially conflicting institutional identities that defined the IST throughout its thirteen-year existence. [less ▲]

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See detailBroadening the Knowledge Base in Policymaking: Notes on a Symposium on Technology Assessment in the Walloon Parliament
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

Article for general public (2013)

How can technology assessment (TA) broaden and deepen the knowledge base of decision making in science, technology, and innovation? This question was at the forefront of a symposium entitled “Debating new ... [more ▼]

How can technology assessment (TA) broaden and deepen the knowledge base of decision making in science, technology, and innovation? This question was at the forefront of a symposium entitled “Debating new technologies” (Les nouvelles technologies en débat), held on March 8, 2013 at the Walloon Parliament in Namur, Belgium. The author provides his observations of the symposium. [less ▲]

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See detailtaSTI : régimes régionaux de science, technologie, innovation et pratiques de technology assessment
Charlier, Nathan ULg; Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

Scientific conference (2013, June)

"Lors de ce midi du CRIDS, nous présenterons le projet de recherche taSTI (Technology Assessment, Science, technology and innovation). Ce projet, financé pour quatre ans (2012-2016), vise à décrire et ... [more ▼]

"Lors de ce midi du CRIDS, nous présenterons le projet de recherche taSTI (Technology Assessment, Science, technology and innovation). Ce projet, financé pour quatre ans (2012-2016), vise à décrire et comparer l’évolution des régimes régionaux de science, technologie et innovation (STI) en Flandre et en Wallonie depuis la régionalisation partielle de ces compétences au début des années 80. Notre approche vise à comprendre l’influence de changements globaux, tels que l’adoption d’un récit d’économie / de société de la connaissance, sur le niveau régional et local. Comment les acteurs s’approprient-ils de telles propositions dans un contexte marqué par plusieurs réformes de l’état ? Comment les politiques publiques de STI prennent-elles des trajectoires différentes au nord et au sud du pays ? Nous aurons une attention particulière pour l’institutionnalisation de pratiques de Technology Assessment (évaluation des choix technologiques) dans ce paysage : alors que la Flandre a fermé son institut fin 2012, la Wallonie a pour projet d’en ériger un d’ici peu. Dès lors, quelle est la place de ces institutions et de ces pratiques dans le cadre régional, comment peuvent-elles évoluer et s’adapter aux changements ? Notre recherche vise à apporter des propositions pour répondre à ces questions. [less ▲]

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See detailOpening the politics in participatory technology assessment: On power and ethics
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

Scientific conference (2013, April 20)

In participatory technology assessment (pTA), technical and nontechnical communities convene to share their views on a sociotechnical challenge, in an attempt to render technology research and development ... [more ▼]

In participatory technology assessment (pTA), technical and nontechnical communities convene to share their views on a sociotechnical challenge, in an attempt to render technology research and development more socially robust. Taking these commitments to transdisciplinary collaboration and co-construction of technology as entry points, this paper describes key tensions that emerged in a Flemish pTA project on nanotechnologies, entitled ‘Nanotechnologies for Tomorrow’s Society’ (NanoSoc). The tensions pertain to how the terms of participation were enacted, the potentially conflicting aims embedded in the project’s mission and methods, the various roles initiating pTA researchers (social scientists) assumed throughout the project’s duration, and the deliberative-democratic rationale that sustains pTA frameworks at large. The paper is a response to a pressing question posed to the author by pTA professionals, project participants, and policymakers who ask publics to partake in science and technology decision making: Now that NanoSoc is terminated, what can we learn from it? [less ▲]

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See detailBringing the normative content into participatory technology assessment
Lucivero, Federica; Delvenne, Pierre ULg; Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

Conference (2013, March 13)

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See detailMapping the interplay of policy paradigms and technology assessment in Flanders and Wallonia (Belgium)
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg; Charlier, Nathan ULg; Rosskamp, Benedikt ULg et al

Conference (2013, March 13)

This paper empirically assesses how science, technology, and innovation (STI) policies in the regions of Flanders and Wallonia (Belgium) are affected by, and possibly transformed through, technology ... [more ▼]

This paper empirically assesses how science, technology, and innovation (STI) policies in the regions of Flanders and Wallonia (Belgium) are affected by, and possibly transformed through, technology assessment (TA). Broadly defined, TA encompasses activities and programs that seek to expand and deepen the knowledge base of contemporary knowledge-based economies (KBEs), typically by including new actors (e.g. trade unions), ideas (e.g. science in society), and rationales (e.g. participatory techniques) in STI processes. The paper thus seeks to render concrete how TA ideas and programs unfold with, and potentially steer, new articulations of knowledge, which are imperative to present-day STI processes. Drawing on TA case studies in the two regions, the paper illustrates how TA takes on various shapes and forms, including that of mediating instrument, policy-oriented decision-making tool linked to Parliament, and experimental-deliberative mechanism. It is argued that while these TA forms engender new kinds of knowledge and knowledge production, the extent to which TA discourses and practices are effectively taken up in STI is contingent upon how TA taps into, and aligns itself with, global and regional dynamics. The former comprise the convergence of technology research and innovation around the KBE and the advent of strategic science, with its emphasis on real-world problem solving (relevance) and basic research (excellence); the latter entail constitutional reforms that spurred the regionalization of STI policy in Belgium. Our analysis brings a macro-sociological and political sensitivity to bear on TA. Rather than conceiving of TA as a mere management tool or governance technique, we suggest that TA processes enact, as well as counteract, dominant innovation policies. How TA positions itself or is positioned in relation to these policies, is particularly relevant to consider in view of the Flemish Government’s recent decision to abolish its parliamentary TA institute and the Walloon Government’s intention of erecting one. [less ▲]

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See detailNaar een ethisch verantwoorde nanotechnologie? Over de plaats van ethiek in het huidige wetenschapsbeleid
Laurent, Brice; Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg

in Ethiek & Maatschappij (2013), 14(4),

In this article, the authors describe how transhumanist ideas influence science nanotechnology policy in the United States. Subsequently, they distinguish different ways in which policymakers and ... [more ▼]

In this article, the authors describe how transhumanist ideas influence science nanotechnology policy in the United States. Subsequently, they distinguish different ways in which policymakers and scientists, both in the US and in Europe, address social and ethical implications of nanotechnology research and development. They discern two dominant approaches to responsible technology development: a rationalist approach, which separates scientific issues from ethical questions, and a procedural approach, which adheres to guiding moral principles for responsible technology development. They add to this classification an experimental approach, which directly intervenes in scientific practice. By indicating how concerned actors ethicize nanotechnology in different ways, the authors seek to clarify what is meant by ethics in nanotechnology development and incite reflection on the interconnectedness of ethics and new technologies. [less ▲]

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See detailShifting and Deepening Engagements: Experimental Normativity in Public Participation in Science and Technology
Van Oudheusden, Michiel ULg; Laurent, Brice

in Science, Technology & Innovation Studies (2013), 9(1), 3-22

Public participation in science, technology, and innovation is a significant trend in contemporary western democracies, which increasingly implicates the social scien-tist in diverse ways. Yet, the ... [more ▼]

Public participation in science, technology, and innovation is a significant trend in contemporary western democracies, which increasingly implicates the social scien-tist in diverse ways. Yet, the question as to how social scientists actually engage in public participation, and how their engagements may be normatively justified, is not the object of systematic consideration in participatory frameworks and in ac-tion-oriented social science. In this article, we ask how social scientists can take responsibility for their normative choices when engaging in participatory practice. Drawing on our experiences as researchers of public participation in nanotechnol-ogies in Flanders (Belgium) and France, respectively, we reflectively consider our relationship with research subjects, the political relevance of our work, and the research problems we deal with. This leads us to articulate three modes of norma-tivity that inform our commitments: a process mode, a critical mode, and a mode inspired by Actor Network Theory. Differentiating between these modes and gar-nering sensitivity towards each mode’s characteristics opens the way to experi-mentation with different types of normativity through which the social scientist accounts for his commitments and shifts or deepens his engagements in response to conflicting demands and real-world circumstances. Thus, rather than endorsing one approach to participation, we recommend a pragmatic attitude that implies systematic probing of the roles the social scientist assumes vis-à-vis other partici-pants, interests, and objectives, and that enables him to continually adjust his po-sition in view of the particularities of his situation. [less ▲]

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