SpeakersDr Sabina Leonelli, Research Fellow, Egenis
University of Exeter,Egenis,Byrne House,St Germans Road,Exeter, EX4 4PJ
Room no: GF7, Byrne House
Time: 3:30 - 5:00 PM
Issue-Based Scientific Governance
A long-term goal of my research at Egenis is to elaborate a theoretical framework for understanding new forms of soft governance in science and their epistemic impact on research. In this talk, I wish to present and discuss some initial ideas on how to pursue this goal. I focus on the social and epistemic role of scientific organisations that are created by scientists themselves for the purposes of self-regulation. How can we conceptualise and understand cases of self-organised, collective action of the type that gives rise to scientific societies, alliances and committees, often with significant consequences for the structure, direction and coordination of research as a whole? My starting point in tackling this broad question is to analyse and compare the history and institutional role of three types of organisation:(1) genomic consortia, and particularly the Ontology Consortia recently emerged as de facto regulatory bodies in bioinformatics; (2) self-appointed committees that play a crucial role in coordinating research at a national and international level, such as the GARNet (Genomic Arabidopsis Research Network) within UK plant science; and (3) international projects funded by the EU, e.g. the AGRON-OMICS project funded by the EU Sixth Framework Programme. Drawing from current ideas in social movement theory and political philosophy, I argue that these three cases can be thought of as examples of issue-based politics, and that understanding these organisations as social movements constitutes an illuminating strategy to analyse their origins and development into full-fledged regulatory bodies.