17. Next-Generation Intersections of STS and Public Policy
Shobita Parthasarathy, University of Michigan; Jason Delborne, North Carolina State University; Gwen Ottinger, Drexel University;
Over the last 50 years, STS has offered crucial insights for policymakers, from showing how social values and political ideologies are embedded in the evidence and expertise that shape decisions to recommending new methods for evaluating emerging science and technology. As a result, STS scholars and ideas are increasingly playing a role in science and technology policymaking, and there is growing attention to the risks and benefits of emerging innovations. But there is much further to go. Around the world, governments uncritically use algorithms to allocate social services and provide public safety. Despite pressures to consider equity and justice, policymakers struggle to imagine evaluation frameworks that will take the needs of marginalized communities more seriously in environmental and health policies. And scientific and government elites still perform problematic boundary work when referring to 'the public' and patterns of 'misinformation'. How can STS address this next generation of public policy problems? How do we understand the issues at stake, and what solutions can we offer? For STS engaged scholars who have gone beyond observation and critique, what are the benefits and risks of trying to participate in public policy conversations? This open panel invites submissions from across the spectrum of public policymaking (e.g., environment, technology regulation, criminal justice), from scholars and policy practitioners, and with historical and global perspectives (particularly outside the United States and Europe).