Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard

Harvard Kennedy School of Government | Harvard University

Science and Democracy Network

The Science and Democracy Network (SDN) was formed in Berlin in 2002 to enhance the theoretical quality and practical significance of scholarship in science and technology studies (STS) by training young professionals and by forging links between STS and related fields of study and practice.

Through an annual workshop and other activities, SDN seeks to:

  • create and maintain an international network of scholars and practitioners interested in the democratic governance of science and technology;
  • promote scholarly exploration of the democratic steering, conduct, and uses of science and technology;
  • improve the quality, visibility, and dissemination of the research of young scholars;
  • connect the normative and political analysis of science and technology to work in adjacent disciplines, such as law, ethics, and political science; and
  • communicate perspectives from STS to policy actors and contribute to social problem-solving.

The annual SDN workshop is normally held at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, MA. This workshop provides a forum for sophisticated empirical research on topics of importance to the contemporary politics of science and technology. The workshops train young professionals, foster dialogue among scholars from the US, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere, and build an improved knowledge base for public policy by highlighting policy issues of importance to the United States and the global community.

The workshops are focused around three core themes:

  • institutions;
  • citizenship and participation; and
  • representation and communication.

The workshops also include targeted topical lectures and panels on current issues of
concern.

Workshop papers are selected through solicitation among members and from relevant professional societies and academic programs in the field of science and technology studies (S&TS). Selection criteria include relevance to major research themes in S&TS as well as intellectual development within and beyond the field. Young scholars participating in the workshops benefit from the critical review of their work on the politics of science and technology, in-depth discussion of methodological and theoretical issues in science and democracy research, significant networking opportunities with other participants, and opportunities to engage with senior scholars, scientists, and policy practitioners.

SDN members individually and collectively have participated in a wide range of advisory and consultative activities in the United States, Europe, and Japan. These include running nanotechnology and society programs at US and UK universities, participating in ethics advisory bodies and other expert groups of the European Union, and filing an amicus curiae brief to the World Trade Organization (see David Winickoff, Sheila Jasanoff, Lawrence Busch, Robin Grove-White, and Brian Wynne. 2005. “Adjudicating the GM Food Wars: Science, Risk, and Democracy in World Trade Law.” Yale Journal of International Law 30: 81-123).

The SDN has been supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (Award No. SES-0350796; awarded February 23, 2004, concluded December 31, 2005).

The website of the Science and Democracy Network can be found at http://www.hks.harvard.edu/sdn/.