University of Strasbourg – Specialization

The Politics of Knowledge: Assessing and Communicating Rick

Course description
Public concerns about some of the latest scientific and technological developments, such as genetically modified food, human cloning, environmental degradation, natural hazards, climate change etc., reflect a new relation between science and its publics. As science and technology encroaches into nearly every part of our working environment as well as our private lives, we are increasingly asked – not only as individuals but also as social groups – to take decisions that are linked to at least some understanding of scientific and technological knowledge. This specialisation will examine the emergence and the understanding of the notion of risk in our society, ask who assesses risk and with what authority (granted by whom?). Investigating these issues will allow students to trace an ever-evolving and changing politics of knowledge that we shape to a large extent through our political, scientific, social and cultural choices.

List of core literature
• Beck, Ulrich. Risk society: towards of new modernity (London: Sage, 1992).
• Daston, Lorraine, “Objectivity and the escape from perspective”, Social Studies of Science, 22 (1992) 597-618.
• Bijker, Wiebe, “American and Dutch coastal engineering: Differences in risk conception and differences in technological culture,” Social Studies of Science, 37 (2007), 143-151.
• Dörries, Matthias, “Climate catastrophes and fear,” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 1 (2010), 885-890.
• Fleming, James R., Fixing the Sky (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).
• Fogel, Cathleen, “The Local, the Global, and the Kyoto Protocol”, in: Jasanoff, Sheila and Marybeth Long Martello (eds), Earthly Politics: local and global in environmental governance (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), 103-125.
• Gigerenzer, Gerd, Reckoning with risk: learning to live with uncertainty (London: Allen Lane, 2002).
• Goldman, Michael, “Imperial Nature: Environmental Knowledge for the World (Bank),” in Jasanoff, Sheila and Marybeth Long Martello (eds), Earthly Politics: local and global in environmental governance (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004), 55-80.
• Hilgartner, Stephen, “Overflow and containment in the aftermath of disaster”, Social Studies of Science, 37 (2007), 153-158.
• Jasanoff, Sheila, “Image and imagination: The formation of global environmental consciousness”, in: Clark A. Miller and Paul N. Edwards (eds.), Changing the atmosphere: Expert knowledge and environmental governance (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001), 309-337.
• Jasanoff, Sheila, “Beyond calculation: A Democratic Response to Risk,” in: Andrew Lakoff, Disaster and the politics of intervention (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), 14-40.
• Jasanoff, Sheila and Marybeth Long Martello (eds), Earthly Politics: local and global in environmental governance (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004).
• Kahneman, Daniel, “Choices, values, and frames,” American Psychologist, 39 (1984), pp. 341-350.
• Lakoff, Andrew (ed.), Disaster and the politics of intervention (New York, Columbia University Press, 2010).
• Luján, José Luis and Olivier Todt, “Precaution: A taxonomy,” Social Studies of Science 42 (2012), 143-157.
• Miller Clark A. and Paul N. Edwards (eds.), Changing the atmosphere: Expert knowledge and environmental governance (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001).
• Miller, David, “Risk, science and policy: definitional struggles, information management, the media and BSE” Social Science & Medicine 49 (1999), 1239-1255.
• Nelkin Dorothy, Selling Science. How the Press Covers Science and Technology (New York : Freeman & Compagny, 1995).
• Renn, Ortwin. “Concepts of risk: a classification”, in: Sheldon Krimsky, Dominic Golding (eds.), Social theories of risk (Westport: Praeger, 1992), 53- 79.
• Schneider, Stephen H. et al. (eds), Climate Change Policy (Washington: Island Press, 2002).
• Slovic, Paul, The perception of risk (London: Earthscan, 2000).
• Weingart, Peter, Anita Engels, and Petra Pansegrau, “Risks of communication: discourses on climate change in science, politics, and the mass media”, Public Understanding of Science 9 (2000), 261-283.
• Wynne, Brian, “Risk as globalising ‘democratic’ discourse? Framing subjects and citizens,” in: Leach, Martina et al. (eds), Science and Citizens. Globalisation and the Challenge of Engagement (London: Zed Books, 2005), 66-82.

Language of instruction: English

Minimum and maximum number of students: 3-10

Example of theses
Transboundary River management: An Assessment of International Cooperation on the Risk of Flooding along the River Meuse (Marit Heideman)

Differing Views of Uncertainty in Environmental Controversies: The Kearl Oils Sands Case – Zoë Robaey

Differing Views of Uncertainty in Environmental Controversies: The Kearl Oils Sands Case, 2003-2008 in Canada (Zoë Robaey)

Risk Society as a Risk for Developing Countries: The Case of Italian Toxic Waste Dumped on the Black Sea (Ozgur Cengiz)

Nanotechnology in context: Science, non-governmental organisations and the challenge of communication (Janina Schirmer)

Establishing Product Safety in Europe: The Case of the Genetically Modified Potato Amflora (Elisabeth Mueller)

Should uncertainty trigger the precautionary principle? The controversy on drilling for gas in the Dutch Wadden Sea (1998-1999) (Bart van Oost)

Schedule for the introductory course
The introductory course will take place in February and March.

Web link: http://mastersts.u-strasbg.fr/

Coordinator
Director of Studies 
Dr. Matthias Dörries,
IRIST, 7 rue de l’Université, F-67000 Strasbourg,
Email: dorries@unistra.fr
Tel: +33 (0)3 90 24 06 03

Possible Supervisors:
Matthias Dörries (Natural hazards and risk), Marion Thomas (Medicine, biotechnology and Risk)