Andrei Kuznetsov (European University at Saint Petersburg)
Olga Bychkova (European University at Saint Petersburg)


From 13:30
to 15:00
From 13:30
to 15:00

Course description
This course aims to show to what extent contemporary states and public sphere are interwoven with science and technology. States are one of the leading actors in the government of science and technology, as they drive and regulate technological innovations, invite different types of experts to deal with the social, political and economic problems in modern societies. At the same time, policymakers all over the world use the expertise of scientists and engineers to build large and small technological systems and legitimise themselves in the eyes of citizens and of other states. While doing this, policymakers often construct technologies in the most convenient way to make them controllable from different points of view. They can employ, for instance, social and legal means and create legal constraints for participating in a certain committee that governs science and technology. The same control can be done through technological means when the very character of the design of technology or infrastructure makes it the only possible way to use it or to be controlled by the state. Scholars and engineers are welcomed to join in such activities and participate in various ways in public policy-making that contributes to the development of science and technology. In our class, students will learn about the roles and positions of scholars and engineers in policy decision-making. All those topics will be taught during the course both by relying on the existing studies and on some well-discussed empirical cases in science and technology.

Teaching format
The class consists of lectures and seminars each week. During the lecture, a framework of analysis and description of some relevant cases will be suggested. During seminars starting Week 2, students (1 or 2, depending on the number of students in the class) will lead the reading and be responsible to make the overall conclusion as well as summarising the key issues raised in discussion.

Course evaluation
Students should attend lectures and seminars except Mid-term Week and Final Week when they will submit the mid-term essay and final essay.

The assessment for the course (total – 100% from the grade):

● 10% - activity on the seminars: including the participation in class’s readings, discussion of the arguments presented and posing questions to them.

● 20% - leading the reading: In addition to active participation during seminars, each seminar starting Week 2, one (or two students, depending on the size of the class) will lead the class’s reading of one article from the reading assignment. The goal is to moderate the reading and conversation by raising questions and making conclusions.

● 30% - Science or Technology Policy Controversy Paper, Part #1 (Midterm Week). Min. length: 2000 words. In this part, student(s) choose an ongoing controversy related to a specific science or technology policy that you might want to focus on for your two papers. Controversies are likely to focus on one of two specific questions: 1) should an area of science or technology move forward (e.g., proposals for developments geoengineering, natural resource development, etc.); or 2) should the government regulate a particular area of science and technology (e.g., greenhouse gases/fossil fuels; GMO; self-driving cars, etc.). Choose a particular national context in which an actual controversy is taking place. Answer the following questions: 1) What are the main topic(s) of controversy, and what is the history and context of the issue? 2) What is the specific policy or legislation being debated? 3) What is the evidence of an ongoing controversy? 4) Who are the stakeholders involved? 5) Who are the decision-makers involved? 6) Who was selected as experts for the public discussion of the controversy?

● 40% - Final paper and its presentation on Week 12. Science or Technology Policy Controversy Paper, Part #2 (Exam Week). Min. length: 4000 words. In the second part, student(s) continue writing mid-term essay, now focusing on an assessment of the topic you are analysing. It should be addressed to a decision-maker, from you as a science and technology policy analyst. It should include a brief history of the controversy, an assessment of the stakeholders involved (including who they are, their interests, values, and positions on the issue), the main issues of controversy, and previous efforts at resolution. In evaluating the main issues, discuss the disputes over values, knowledge, and expertise (and how they are linked together). Be specific about the history, the policy, who the stakeholders and experts are, and what the stakeholders and experts are arguing.
Regular deadlines for VIU 1st Semester 2023-202 apply.


Class structure
! NB:
1. Class will be taught in hybrid format:
Week 1-6 – personally at VIU. After midterm break, online format.
2. Two professors:
Prof. Bychkova will teach Week 1 and 2 personally at VIU
Prof. Kuznetsov will teach Week 3-6 personally at VIU, and week 7-12  online.

Week 1. Introduction. Scientists and public policy: Expertise and public decision-making.
Week 1a. Truth, post-truth and policy-making
Week 2. Policy cycle and the role of expertise: Policy cycle and the role of expertise: Science advisers as policymakers.
Week 2a. Two styles of thinking: Understanding the issue of climate changes and getting it on public agenda
Week 3-5. Engineers and politics of artefacts and technological systems
Week 6. Campbell’s law and the uncertainty of managing science and technology.
Midterm paper due.
Midterm break
Week 7. Collingridge’s dilemma and the control of the technologies.
Week 8-9. Role of the public in science and technology policy.
Week 10. Algorithmic governance.
Week 11. Between science and politics: Experts’ boundary work.
Week 12. Papers’ presentations.
Exam week. Final paper due.


Class schedule

Part I. Science, technology and public policy

Week 1. Introduction. Scientists and public policy: Expertise and public decision-making.
The syllabus will be distributed, and the first reading assignments will be due Week #3. Reading leader(s) will sign up for specific weeks at the first meeting of the class.
● No reading assignment
Further reading [Optional]:
Collins, Harry M., and Robert Evans. 2002. “The Third Wave of Science Studies: Studies of Expertise and Experience.” Social Studies of Science 32 (2): 235-296.
Douglas, Heather E. 2009. “The Rise of the Scientific Advisor.” Chapter 2. In: Science, Policy and the Value-Free Ideal.
Feuer, Michael J., and Christina J. Maranto. 2010. “Science Advice as Procedural Rationality.” Minerva 48: 259-275.
Pielke, Roger A. 2007. “Four Idealised Roles of Science in Policy and Politics” Chapter 1. In: The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics.

Week 1a. Truth, post-truth and policy-making.
We will discuss a documentary movie “Merchants of Doubt” (2014, 1h 36 min).
Assignment #1:
● Read: Jasanoff, Sheila, and Hilton R. Simmet. 2017. “No Funeral Bells: Public Reason in a ‘Post-Truth’ Age.” Social Studies of Science 47 (5): 751-770.
● Find one example of a post-truth and be ready for classroom discussion.
Further reading [Optional]:
Kavanagh, Jennifer, and Michael D. Rich. 2018. Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life. RAND.
Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik M. Conway. 2010. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Bloomsbury Press.

Week 2. Policy cycle and the role of expertise: Science advisers as policymakers.
● No reading assignment
Further reading [Optional]:
Jasanoff, Sheila. 1987. Contested Boundaries in Policy-Relevant Science, Social Studies of Science 17 (2): 195-230.
Jasanoff, Sheila. 1998. The Fifth Branch: Science Advisers as Policymakers. Harvard University Press.
Lindblom, Charles E. 1959. “The Science of Muddling Through.” Public Administration Review 14: 79-88.
Nelkin, Dorothy (ed.) 1992. Controversy: Politics of Technical Decisions. Sage.

Week 2a. Two styles of thinking: Understanding the issue of climate changes and getting it on public agenda.
Case: Climate change; economics of climate change; geo-engineering
Assignment #2:
● Reading leader(s) #1
Articles for class reading:
Fullerton, Don, and Robert N. Stavins. 1998. “How Economists See the Environment.” Nature 395: 433–434.
Morrow, D. 2014. Ethical aspects of the mitigation obstruction argument against climate engineering research. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences.
Stern, Nicholas. 2015. “Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency, and Promise of Tackling Climate Change”, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 3-32.
Further reading [Optional]:
Aldy, Joseph, E. and Robert N. Stavins. 2012. “Using the Market to Address Climate Change.” Daedalus, 141 (2): 45-57.
Berman Popp, E. 2002. Thinking Like an Economist: How Economics Became the Language of U.S. Public Policy. Princeton University Press.
Sarewitz, Daniel. 2004. “How Science Makes Environmental Controversies Worse,” Environmental Science and Policy 7: 385-403.
Extra-curricular activity: We can watch and discuss movie “Don’t look up” (2021)

Part II. Cases.

Week 3-5. Engineers and politics of artifacts and technological systems.
Cases: Bridge, post-Soviet heating pipes, Zimbabwe bush pump
Assignment #3:
● Reading leader(s) #2
Article for class reading:
Winner, Langdon. 1986. Do Artefacts Have Politics? In: L. Winner, The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology. University of Chicago Press: 19-39.
Assignment #4:
• Reading leader(s) #3
Articles for class reading:
Bychkova, Olga and Evgenia Popova. 2011. “Things and People in Housing and Utility Sector Reform in Russia, 1991-2006.” In: Oleg Kharkhordin and Risto Alapuro (eds.) Political Theory and Community Building in Post-Soviet Russia. London: Routledge.
Assignment #5:
• Reading leader(s) #4
Article for class reading:
De Laet, Marianne, and Annemarie Mol. 2000. The Zimbabwe Bush Pump: Mechanics of a Fluid Technology. Social Studies of Science, 30 (2): 225-263.
Further reading [Optional]:
Collier, Stephen J. 2011. Post-Soviet Social: Neoliberalism, Social Modernity, Biopolitics. Princeton University Press. Selected pp.
Larkin, Brian. 2013. The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure. Annual Review of Anthropology, 42: 327-343.
Meehan, Katie. 2014. Tool-power: Water Infrastructure as Wellsprings of State Power. Geoforum, 57: 215-224.
Mol, Annemarie., and John Law. 1994. Regions, Networks and Fluids: Anaemia and Social Topology, Social Studies of Science 24 (4): 641-671.
Mumford, Lewis. 1964. Authoritarian and Democratic Technics. Technology and Culture, 5 (1): 1-8.

Week 6. Campbell’s law and the uncertainty of managing science and technology.
Assignment #6:
● Reading leader(s) #5
Article for class reading:
Campbell, Donald T. 1979. Assessing the Impact of Planned Social Change. Evaluation and Program Planning, 2 (1): 67–90.
Further reading [Optional]:
Vinsel L. J. 2015. Designing to the Test: Performance Standards and Technological Change in the US Automobile after 1966. Technology and Culture, 56 (4): 868-894.

Midterm week.
Assignment: Midterm paper due.

Midterm break

Week 7. Collingridge’s dilemma and the control of the technologies.
Assignment #7:
● Reading leader(s) #6
Article for class reading:
Genus, Audley, and Andy Stirling. 2018. Collingridge and the Dilemma of Control: Towards Responsible and Accountable Innovation. Research Policy, 47 (1): 61-69.
Further reading [Optional]:
Liebert, Wolfgang, and Jan C. Schmidt. 2010. Collingridge’s Dilemma and Technoscience. Poiesis & Praxis, 7 (1-2): 55-71.

Week 8-9. Public participation in science and technology policy.
Assignment #8:
● Reading leader(s) #7
Article for class reading:
Irwin, Alan. 2006. The politics of Talk: Coming to Terms with the ‘New’ Scientific Governance. Social Studies of Science, 36 (2): 299-320.
Assignment #9:
● Reading leader(s) #8
Article for class reading:
Bell, Larry. 2008. Engaging the Public in Technology Policy: A New Role for Science Museums. Science Communication, 29 (3): 386-398.
Further reading [Optional]:
Callon, Michel, Pierre Lascoumes, and Yannick Barthe. 2011. Acting in an Uncertain World: An Essay on Technical Democracy. MIT Press.
Chilvers, J., Kearnes, M. (eds.). 2017. Remaking Participation. Science, Environment and Emergent publics. Routledge (2017).
Sclove, Richard. 2000. Town Meetings on Technology: Consensus Conferences as Democratic Participation. In: Daniel Lee Kleinman (ed.). Science, Technology, and Democracy. Albany: SUNY Press, Chapter 2.
Brown, Mark. 2006. Citizen Panels and the Concept of Political Representation. The Journal of Political Philosophy, 14 (2): 203-225.
Stilgoe, Jack, Matthew Watson, and Kirsty Kuo. 2013. Public Engagement with Biotechnologies Offers Lessons for the Governance of Geoengineering Research and Beyond. PLOS Biology, 11 (11): 1-7.
Macnaghten, Phil and Bronislaw Szerszynski. 2013. Living the Global Social Experiment: An Analysis of Public Discourse on Solar Radiation Management and its Implications for Governance. Global Environmental Change, 23: 465-474.

Week 10. Algorithmic governance.
Assignment #10:
● Reading leader(s) #9
Article for class reading:
Ruppert, Evelyn. 2012. The Governmental Topologies of Database Devices. Theory, Culture & Society, 29 (4-5): 116-136.
Further reading [Optional]:
Brayne, Sarah. 2017. Big Data Surveillance: The Case of Policing. American Sociological Review, 82 (5): 977-1008.
Berry, Mark. 2018. Technology and Organised Crime in the Smart City: An Ethnographic Study of the Illicit Drug Trade. City, Territory and Architecture, 5 (1): 1-11.

Week 11. Experts’ boundary work.
Assignment #11:
● Reading leader(s) #10
Article for class reading:
Zaidi, S. Waqar H. 2021. Scientists as Political Experts: Atomic Scientists and Their Claims for Expertise on International Relations, 1945–1947. Centaurus 63 (1): 17-31.
Further reading [Optional]:
Golka, Philipp, and Natascha van der Zwan. 2022. Experts versus Representatives? Financialised Valuation and Institutional Change in Financial Governance. New Political Economy: 1-14. DOI: 10.1080/13563467.2022.2045927
Schmidt, Garbi. 2021. Boundary Work: Investigating the Expert Role of Danish Migration Researchers. Identities 28 (5): 543-560.

Week 12. Final discussion.
Final paper’s presentations and discussions.

Exam week. Group consultations with the professor.
Assignments: Final paper due.




Last updated: July 3, 2023


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