Lecture: Science, Values and Public Policy


Location: 217 DeBartolo


All are warmly invited to the Nieuwland Lecture entitled 'Science, Values and Public Policy', delivered by Dr Susan Hackwood, executive director of the California Council of Science and Technology. Her lecture is as follows: 

'Science, Values and Public Policy', Wednesday 18th April, 9am, De Bartelo 217. 

The intersection between science and technology, and public policy is a fascinating world. Decisions made by policy makers have an enormous impact on our life – think of the economy, healthcare, education, the environment, safety and security. Policy decisions most often have a science or technology component that policy makers and their staff are simply not trained to handle. Asking an expert is not enough. Clear communication, trust and accountability are paramount to science advising. A technical topic is inherently difficult to explain, not just because of the knowledge of the listener, but also because policy makers are looking for a “one handed answer”, not an “on the other hand”. Also, the scientific method does not take into account very real personal feelings such as outrage, irrational hope or groupthink.

In this lecture, we will look at current and emerging issues using examples such as stem cell research, green cremation, cell phones use in prisons, smart meters, environmental and energy systems. We will also look at emerging technologies that are rapidly changing the world, for better and for worse, such as big data, ubiquitous wireless communications, social networking, and genetics and genomics. Policy in these areas will be needed and already pose difficulties to define, explain and even keep up.

This promises to be not only a fascinating presentation, but will show clearly and with concrete examples the vital relationship between science and values and how this engages with public policy decision making. Dr Hackwood will be available to meet with you after her lecture for light refreshments at 119 O'Shaughnessy at 10.45am. All are welcome.