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Understanding Science, Media, and Public Policy (SO9A3)

Drawing on resources from history, philosophy and social studies of science, as well as recent social theory, this module surveys and critiques various frameworks for conceptualising the relationship between science, media and public policy.

Among the topics covered include: science’s public accountability, science and social divisions, the role of peer review in authorising scientific knowledge, the comparative demands of scientific and journalistic inquiry, the role of public relations in science, the idea of science as a cultural product, media’s duty to educate, inform and entertain the public about science, scientists as political advisors, actors and advocates, the idea of the citizen-scientist, the role of new media as both information resource and research site for science.

Emphasis will be placed on the two-way influence of theory and practice, as well as the challenges posed by the representation of specific types of scientific knowledge in specific media. This term’s module will pay special attention to changing media representations of ‘humanity’ -- including trans/posthumanity – in light of recent developments in science and technology, focusing on practices of ‘anticipatory governance’, whereby the public come to be mentally prepared for the prospect of quite radical innovation. There may be relevant external guest speakers.

Module Director

Steve Fuller

Timing and CATS

This module will run in the Spring Term and is worth 20 CATS.