SFIS Newsletter - Issue 6

Science and Democracy Network participants

SFIS takes Harvard by storm

SFIS faculty, students, alumni, and affiliates were active participants in the 15th anniversary meeting of the Science and Democracy Network (SDN), June 28 - July 1, 2017. SDN is the largest community of researchers and practitioners devoted to understanding and improving the relationship between science and technology and the practice of democratic governance. Read more.


Darlene Cavalier and Kiki Jenkins 

Bringing citizen scientists into the fold to advance learning

There’s an exciting change under way in the scientific community. Citizens with an avid interest in science are getting the chance to contribute to real research through data collection and analysis in collaboration with professional scientists.

These “citizen scientists” — tinkerers and enthusiasts of all stripes — are being given the tools and platforms to turn their interests into real research, perhaps minimizing or even bringing to an end the stark division between academia and society. Read more.


 SOtL group in front of DC office

Science Outside the Lab

This summer, SFIS hosted five sessions of its Science Outside the Lab (SOtL) program, which focuses on science policy and helping students understand the roles that science plays in society. The 2017 program comprised four sessions for graduate students and one session for undergraduates, drawing 65 students from universities across the country including Northwestern, Yale, Georgia Tech, and UC Santa Barbara.


Out and About

Patent Politics Panel

Panel discussion at book launch

CSPO co-director Dan Sarewitz spoke at an event to launch Patent Politics, a book written by CSPO affiliate Shobita Parthasarathy. Patent systems are usually considered technical and legal, but Parthasarathy shows how they are deeply social and political. Follow this link for video of the event.


 Eric Kennedy

PhD chairs panel

PhD candidate Eric Kennedy chaired a panel at the Breakthrough Dialogue 2017 Conference June 21-23 titled Values in Science and Policy: Whose Nature? On how diverse and competing values can be identified and brought into environmental policy conversations. The theme of Dialogue 2017 focused on wilderness spaces, values, and different kinds of risk tradeoffs. Distinguished representatives of the Wilderness Society, the National Center for Environmental Economics, and the International Programme Office of the Global Land Programme joined Kennedy in the talk.


 Biodesign Challenge artwork

SFIS so-sponsors finalists

A team of ASU students from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, supported by SFIS and the Biodesign Institute, competed as finalists in the Biodesign Challenge Summit at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. The team’s project, called “Life Light,” consists of a small-scale prototype of an interactive, kinetic art installation that can move with a visitor to envelop them with glow-in-the-dark, or bioluminescent, algae. Read more about the ASU team in this feature.


 ECAST Network meeting

ECAST climate resilience program

The Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) network, which was co-founded by CSPO, hosted a new program to engage diverse groups of everyday people on ways to reduce their vulnerability to climate hazards. More than 60 people gathered for eight hours to explore potential vulnerabilities resulting from sea level rise and extreme precipitation, discuss strategies for addressing these hazards, and make recommendations for increasing the Boston region’s climate resilience. For a more detailed article, click here.

June 2017


Forests cover

How cities think

Professors Clark Miller and Thad Miller (no relation) co-authored “How Cities Think: Knowledge Co-Production for Urban Sustainability and Resilience” for Forests along with collaborator Tischa Munoz-Erickson. The article reviews knowledge co-production as a popular approach to generate useful knowledge for sustainability and resilience. View the abstract here.


Climate Pragmatism cover

Climate pragmatism

Climate Pragmatism, the latest book in CSPO’s “Rightful Place of Science” series, was published. This latest entry is the product of a collaboration with the Breakthrough Institute. As a concise, readable book that avoids jargon, this volume is written for those who want to make progress on these issues — rather than police the politics of opposing sides in the climate wars. Climate Pragmatism and The Rightful Place of Science book series is available on Amazon and at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona.



JRI cover

JRI editorial

As editor of The Journal of Responsible Innovation, Professor Erik Fisher addressed acts of protest and even despair on the part of scholars and practitioners of responsible innovation. In “Responsible innovation in a post-truth moment,” he warns that such reactions, in the long term, could exacerbate existing social divides.


Baby playing

Lead in food

Professor and Risk Innovation Lab Director Andrew Maynard and Postdoctoral Researcher Keri Szejda co-authored “Is lead in the US food supply decreasing our IQ?” for The Conversation. The health risks from this metal are insidious,” they write, “which means the more we do to eliminate it from our food supply, the better off we’ll be.”


Cartoon of man holding tech


Gregg Zachary discusses lag, which he defines as “the failure to adapt to changes in our engineered world” in an IEEE Spectrum article titled “When Innovation Moves Too Fast.”


In the Media

Emerging tech

Dan Sarewitz, Dave Guston, and Andrew Maynard were interviewed by KJZZ radio regarding the risks, anxieties, concerns, and fears associated with rapidly emerging technologies like gene-editing and self-driving cars. “There is the argument that some types of knowledge we probably shouldn’t have,” said Maynard. “The only difficulty is, it’s really, really hard to stop people discovering that knowledge.” The full interview is here.

 Frankenstein annotated

Dave Guston, director of SFIS and co-director of CSPO, was interviewed by KJZZ radio along with ASU professor of English, Devoney Looser, about the recently-published Frankenstein: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers and Creators of All Kinds. The new, annotated edition was the product of a collaborative team headed up by Guston. The book is available for purchase from MIT Press.

Invent the future

Brian David Johnson, ASU’s Futurist in Residence and SFIS faculty, was featured on Pew Charitable Trusts’ After the Fact podcast. Johnson believes that a people-centered approach is key to being able to invent our futures. Listen to the full conversation, which explores the role that each of us can play in creating a better, smarter future that puts knowledge to purpose for the good of all. The article was featured in June’s Trend Magazine, as well.