Prof. Göran Sundqvist (University of Gothenburg): Balancing formalisation of procedures against professional judgement in synthesising science for policy purposes

Göran Sundqvist is visiting the Science Studies Colloquium Series. Sundqvist is Professor at Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg. He is currently working with the relationship between science and politics, and his talk will focus on how knowledge can be transformed into synthesising science, with the purpose of policy-making.

The seminar is open for everyone!

Kilde: University of Gothenburg

Balancing formalisation of procedures against professional judgement in synthesising science for policy purposes: The case of the IPCC

The aim of this presentation is to provide a better understanding of the interplay of formal tools and informal expertise in the IPCC work of producing assessment reports. Any effort at synthesising research findings for policy purposes must rely on a balance between formalised procedures and expert judgements. However, these balancing acts are not well understood. Scholars in the field of science and technology studies (STS) often focus on the significance of informal considerations and negotiations in scientific practice. Practitioners of many disciplines, on the other hand, rely extensively on measuring instruments, protocols and other formal tools, often discussed by STS scholars under the heading of mechanical objectivity. Porter (1995) emphasises the political utility of mechanical objectivity (formal procedures), while arguing that those are helpful when contested decisions are to be justified. To these exogenous incentives of formalisation we add endogenous incentives, arising within research communities seeking to align techniques of gathering and processing data. This presentation describes the manner in which the IPCC, relying on a combination of formalised procedures and expert judgements (based on exogenous and endogenous incentives), handles i) uncertainty management (how to specify what is known and what remains uncertain) and ii) policy relevance (how to get the policy connection right). A specific focus is given to the new challenging situation for the IPCC in the post-Paris climate regime, and especially the invitation to provide a special report in 2018 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. In this situation, both uncertainty management and policy relevance are highlighted.


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Published Nov. 8, 2017 2:25 PM - Last modified Feb. 15, 2018 11:33 AM