Science, Culture, and Democracy is a research cluster in UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS).
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.
- Professor Brian Balmer
- Dr Emily Dawson (cluster lead)
- Dr Carina Fearnley
- Dr Simon Lock
- Dr Tiago Mata
- Dr Jack Stilgoe
- Dr Melanie Smallman
- Dr Jean-Baptiste Gouyon
- Dr Cian O'Donovan
This also includes teaching and research fellows as well as our PhD students.
Current and recently funded projects within the department are listed below, along with the names of the relevant staff involved:
- EconPublic [Tiago Mata]
- SCALINGS [Jack Stilgoe, Melanie Smallman, Cian O'Donovan]
- SISCODE [Melanie Smallman,Trupti Patel]
- Driverless Futures? [Jack Stilgoe]
- Coordinating and Mobilising Ethics Research Excellence to Inform Key Challenges in a Pandemic Crisis (Cian O'Donovan, Melanie Smallman)
- Enterprising Science [Emily Dawson]
- EUSPACE-AWE [Karen Bultitude, Jen DeWitt and Catherine Aldridge]
- Exploring Equity Challenges in Informal Science Learning [Emily Dawson]
- RRI Tools [Steve Miller, Jack Stilgoe and Melanie Smallman]
- The Formulation and Non-formulation of Security Concerns [Brian Balmer]
- History of the Biological Weapons Convention [Brian Balmer and Alex Spelling] [AHRC]
- Science in Dictatorships and Democracy [Brian Balmer] [Spanish Ministries of Science and Innovation and Economy and Competitiveness]
- Orkney: Beside the Ocean of Time [Carina Fearnley]