Axe 3, Democratization of the governance of science

The overall aim of this last task is to map out the principles of a democratized governance of science, and to explore its possible practical forms, by interacting with scholars in political philosophy and political studies. This exploratory and interdisciplinary task will be performed in two stages.

First, various current systems of governance of science (national or supranational) will be described and compared. Their degree of democratization will be evaluated by looking at the ways other (if any) components of the society are involved, apart from scientific communities. This preliminary synthesis will draw on existing studies in the fields of Science studies and Science Policies Studies. The capacity of science to fulfill its role and aims (as discussed and defined in Task 2), given these current forms of governance, will be evaluated. This critical examination will require to distinguish between publicly funded research and research combining public and private funding.

Secondly, to map out possible forms of democratized governance, the project will draw on various works in the field of theories of democracy. As regards now the exploration of practical forms of democratic governance of science, the project will draw on empirical studies analyzing the success and shortcomings of actual cases of participative democracy in the field of science and technoscience (such as consensus conferences), as well as philosophical studies of participatory forms of democracy. It will investigate whether this kind of public participation in the setting of research agenda is the best way to go to democratize scientific research. If not, the project will have to come up with alternative ways that may fit better in our existing systems of representative democracy. Propositions of innovative forms of governance of science will be illustrated in concrete situations where decisions on research priorities must be made (for instance decisions on research priorities in the domain of renewable energy).

Particular attention will be paid to the role that can be expected from traditional actors of science policies (e.g. scientists and elected representatives) in these innovative forms of governance of science. Moreover, it will probably become necessary to reassess the scope of responsibilities of scientists, beyond their responsibility to deliver knowledge as objective and reliable as possible.