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februar 24, 2015

Policy-Oriented Technology Assessment: Expanding Capacities
Klüver, L., Nielsen, R. Ø. and Jørgensen, M-L. (forthcoming)

Palgrave Pivot, London

Policy-making that aims to address the grand challenges of our time faces a level of complexity beyond any previous project of modernization. Not only are future scenarios haunted by uncertainty; there is also real ambivalence as to the values that policy should strive for. In this situation decision-makers rely increasingly on research and innovation to provide answers and solutions. But at the same time, there is a growing understanding that neither can the great transitions ahead be planned through scientific analysis, nor will conventional methods of innovation bring such transitions about. A turn to interactive forms of governance is therefore underway with policy-makers and citizens becoming increasingly involved in processes of deliberating futures.

Technology Assessment (TA) is the art of structuring such processes of knowledge-intensive reflection with the involvement of different groups in society. TA goes beyond traditional expert policy analysis by systematically combining a multi-disciplinary evidence base with participatory approaches to policy deliberation. TA thus seeks to acts as a hub for serious and transparent dialogue between policy, industry, science, and society about the challenges ahead and the available options for overcoming them responsibly

This volume provides insights into the dynamic expansion of TA practices in new European member states and in cross-European collaboration. The aim is to convey the usefulness and urgency of building capacities for those interdisciplinary and dialogue-based processes of decision-support, which TA stands for. On the one hand, the contributions collected here thus presents TA as a necessary capacity for the formation of policies seeking to tackle ‘grand challenges’ and steer society through ‘great transitions’. On the other hand the volume also explores underlying questions of how to institutionalize such capacities. The volume contributes to the current conversation about the capability of society’s institutions to respond appropriately to challenges such as climate change, energy crisis, biodiversity loss and aging populations. The book challenges much current literature promoting ‘evidence based policy’ by pointing to the inability of science and research alone to provide societally acceptable pathways to sustainability. Taking seriously the difficulties inherent in balancing different interpretations of evidence and opposing values of different societal groups with a stake in policy, the authors convey the experience accumulated in the field of TA of broadening ‘knowledge based’ policy processes through interdisciplinarity and dialogue methods.

Coming this spring, this volume comprises the collaborative efforts of the PACITA partners and points towards the next horizon of European technology assessment. The book is published by Palgrave Pivot and will be available as open access download as well as printed hardcopy.  

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