Title: Bridging the expert and citizen divide: Generating public value data for policy and decision-making
Abstract: The demand for public engagement in upstream science and engineering is fast becoming mainstream. From the National Academies to the European Commission, from geoengineering to gene editing, from artificial intelligence to synthetic biology—there is a growing recognition of the socio-technical nature of the inherent challenges and a variety of calls for earlier and sustained engagement with diverse stakeholders and the general public. Despite a significant increase in the number and sophistication of engagement approaches, institutional and cultural barriers remain, particularly in linking techno-scientific and socio-political discourses. I report on our efforts to use Participatory Technology Assessment (pTA), a method for eliciting informed, deliberative, diverse, and representative public views and values to inform upstream decision-making. I describe the basic three-step trans-disciplinary research design process applied for a pTA project on planetary defense and subsequent innovations in the case of autonomous cars and solar geoengineering. I conclude by focusing on the role pTA can play to bridge the divide between societal needs and expert decision-making.
Biography: Mahmud Farooque’s work at ASU’s Washington Center focuses on linking science policy to better societal outcomes. He co-leads CSPO’s long-term efforts to build a community of practice among innovative R&D program managers in the government, non-government and private sectors.These include convening informal and formal knowledge exchanges between program managers about the challenges and opportunities for innovating in path dependent institutions.
Mahmud is the principal coordinator of Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) – a distributive institutional network that brings together research centers, informal science education centers, citizen science programs and non-partisan policy think tanks to engage citizens on decision-making related to science and technology policy. He led large-scale public consultation projects on biodiversity, space, climate, and energy to support policy and decision-making at the national and global levels. His current public consultation projects involve Climate Change Resilience, Gene Drives, Driverless Cars and Geoengineering.
Mahmud was the Deputy Director of Policy Programs at the New York Academy of Science, Director of Collaborative Research at City University of New York, Associate Director for Research Development at Northwestern University, and Managing Director of USDOT Research Center at Purdue University. Mahmud’s expertise focuses on innovation systems, research management, knowledge co-production, policy entrepreneurship, and participatory technology assessment.