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UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies

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Research Cluster: Science, Culture, and Democracy

Investigating how the sciences interact with culture in democratic and other political contexts enables us to understand, intervene and improve this relationship. Our interests within this research cluster divide into three inter-connected themes, which we review on an annual basis:

Knowledge, Power and People

This research theme within the cluster is concerned with new understandings of how power intersects with knowledge in past and contemporary societies.  Within this theme we explore and challenge matters such as governance, democracy, social justice and equity, risk and decision-making for science, technology and medicine.   Current staff interests related to this theme include how uncertainty and risk are constructed in environmental policy; how secrecy and science interconnect; how social movements challenge the authority of science; and how publics are included and excluded from science.

Responsibility, Ethics and Innovation

This cluster theme explores novel approaches to understanding the social and ethical dimensions of science, technology and medicine.   We are centrally concerned with the nature of responsibility in research and how it is enacted, or should be enacted, by scientists, citizens and governments.  Research in this cluster draws on both historical and contemporary examples to grasp the complexity of the ethical and policy challenges that arise from new knowledge and its applications.  Staff interests related to this theme include: empowering participants who volunteer for biomedical experiments; how to deal with concerns about geoengineering; spreading Responsible Research and Innovation through scientific and policy practice

Science, Culture and the Everyday

This research theme within the cluster is concerned with re-thinking how the public encounter science in their daily lives, whether through hobbies, workplaces, learning or just watching TV.   Our focus is on science communication and engagement in both theory and practice; science and the media; museums and display; the influence of social and online media; and material encounters with science. Staff interests include evaluation and the intersection between research and practice in science communication; evaluating impact; inclusive informal science learning; and historical perspectives on the place of science in everyday lives.

Key Staff

  1. Professor Brian Balmer (cluster lead)
  2. Dr Karen Bultitude
  3. Dr Emily Dawson
  4. Dr Carina Fearnley
  5. Dr Simon Lock
  6. Dr Tiago Mata
  7. Dr Jack Stilgoe
  8. Dr Melanie Smallman
  9. Dr Jean-Baptiste Gouyon

This also includes teaching and research fellows as well as our PhD students.

Funded Projects

Current and recently funded projects within the department are listed below, along with the names of the relevant staff involved: