About

Science and engineering are at the heart of our modern world. When driven by imagination and aspiration, they are providing the technologies that are reshaping our physical environments and social interactions. When mobilized by concern and compassion, they are helping us understand and begin to address the myriad challenges facing humanity this century.

“When I see scientific and technological advice going into policy-making, I often wish that STEaPP had been invented earlier: governments at all scales are in dire need of people with the skills to assess scientific and technical information in an integrated way that acknowledges deep uncertainty and social values. For instance, analysts should learn as early as possible in their careers that emotion plays a central role in the practices of science and engineering, and that it is fundamentally important to acknowledge that the complexity of the world overwhelms us humans in the practices we are involved in. STEaPP promises to deliver the tools to grapple with uncertainty and complexity in a university setting that has a huge potential to change the world.”

The knowledge and technologies our scientific and engineering endeavours generate are nearly always intended to provide benefits for our societies – and generally they do. Yet when introduced to the complexity of our societies, unintended and unforeseen (though frequently foreseeable) results often emerge for our physical and social environments; some times with unexpected benefits, other times with detrimental or even tragic consequences.

The capacity of our communities – from our towns and our cities, to our countries and our international networks and corporations – to manage risks, seize opportunities, and make informed choices about their futures is increasingly dependent on how effectively they are able to leverage scientific and engineering knowledge.

The purpose of the new UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (UCL STEaPP) is to explore, experiment with, and improve the ways scientific and engineering expertise and knowledge are engaged with public decision-making and policy processes across all levels, sectors and cultures of our now globally interdependent societies.

The Foundations for STEaPP: BEAMS and UCL

As a UCL Department, STEaPP organisationally and physically sits within the
Faculty of Engineering. However, the intellectual and financial foundations for STEaPP are equally rooted within all three of the world-class Faculties comprising the BEAMS School (the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment; the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences; and the Faculty of Engineering), and strong connections are being forged with the policy, laws and social science expertise across UCL's other Faculties.

More broadly, STEaPP draws upon UCL’s longstanding tradition of dual-commitment to academic excellence and public service. Pan-university initiatives such as UCL Public Policy, UCL Enterprise and UCL Grand Challenges are current manifestations of the public service orientation that complement and build upon UCL’s world-class academic research and teaching. STEaPP and the related cross-Faculty Institute will benefit strongly from collaborative interactions with these and other programmes, along with the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship nurtured by UCL’s leadership.

London has long been a global capital and intellectual thoroughfare. As London's global university, with globally recognised excellence in science, engineering, laws, politics and social science, UCL is uniquely situated to launch and sustain the ambitious endeavour of STEaPP.

Page last modified on 05 mar 14 12:44