Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1


Ratings: (0)|Views: 4 |Likes:

More info:

Published by: Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research on May 02, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Tyndall Briefing Note No. 9 December 2002
Tyndall Briefing Note No. 9December 2003
Post-Normal Science andthe Tyndall Centre:some critical issues
John Turnpenny
Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Researchand School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwich, NR4 7TJ, UKTel: + 44-1603-593908Fax: + 44-1603-593901E-mail: j.turnpenny@uea.ac.uk
A preliminary version of this briefing note waspresented at the 2003 Tyndall Assembly, in thebreakout session on “Interaction with Non-Academic Communities”. The insights from theensuing discussion have been written into thisdocument. It is intended first as a short overviewof ‘post-normal science’, and second as anexploration of exactly what this might mean for anacademic research organisation’s day-to-daypractices.
New Forms of Science
Responding to climate change covers issues of great complexity, involving many organisations,many spatial and time scales and many academicdisciplines. In traditional Western methods of research, understanding of the world is achieved bydivision into separate academic disciplines andtreating each with a ‘silver bullet’ peopled byspecialists in that narrow field. Science is seen asseparate from values and cultural context.However, when the world faces such overarchingcomplex issues as climate change, it is argued thata new sort of science is needed. So-called ‘Post-Normal Science’ (Funtowicz & Ravetz, 1993;Ravetz, 1999) is a label for issues where facts areuncertain, values in dispute and the stakes arehigh, and has been applied to different fields suchas ecological economics (Muller, 2003), food safety(Ravetz, 2002), medicine (Sweeney & Kernick, 2002,Laugharne & Laugharne, 2002) as well as climatescience (Bray & von Storch, 1999, Saloranta, 2001).In all these fields, action on issues depends on manyvalue-driven decisions made in the face of uncertainty.It moves beyond traditional research, where ‘truthfuloutput’ is everything, to a method where the quality of the process of research is paramount. Complexproblems will never be fully understood before action isneeded to address them; a ‘post-normal process’ includes enabling these actions through joint learningand research with those who will carry out the actions,through participation in research by stakeholders aswell as specialists. This ensures a ‘grounding’ orcontextualisation of research within the practical worldin which it is applied.
The Tyndall Centre
The Tyndall Centre was established in 2000 to pioneernew ways of carrying out research on climate change –research which would be shaped by both academiccreativity and the needs of those outside academia.This is known commonly as ‘policy-relevant’ research.Both the direction and content of research, andinstitutional structure, of the Tyndall Centre, have beencrafted to deliver this objective. Climate change is notsimply a subject (literally) of academic interest – weneed to enable actions to address climate change, andto do that we must engage well with thoseorganisations who will do this. Tyndall activities haveincluded large amounts of interaction with governmentand government agencies, the private sector, advocacygroups, charities and other bodies.However, this creates an obvious tension – and onethat was explicitly recognised in the Tyndall ResearchStrategy: “the Centre.....sits towards the middle of a continuumbetween a purely science-driven agenda....and a purelypolicy-driven agenda......The Centre will thereforemake creative use of this tension and orient itself towards a policy-relevant and scientifically-innovativeresearch agenda” [Tyndall Centre Research Strategy,p. 5]
New Forms of Science and the Tyndall Centre
Hunt & Shackley (1999) draw distinction between threemain types of knowledge. Traditional academic
Tyndall Briefing Note No. 5 December 2003
research is rigorous, deep and thoroughly rooted inpast research, based on peer review. It is also,mostly, independent – designed and carried out byspecialists it is free to reach whatever conclusions itwill. Two quite different types of research,increasingly a major part of the policy process, arefiducial and bureaucratic knowledge. Fiducialknowledge is produced as a service to users, andalthough frequently the basis for policymaking, it isoften not peer-reviewed – the status of the authorsis the most important validation. Bureaucraticknowledge actually involves the user inconstructing the knowledge, which is generally asynthesis for a specific group and contexts. Thissynthesis is filtered – taken from approved sources, judged by ’what works’ for particular politicalsituations. Fiducial and bureaucratic knowledge areoften carried out by consultancies paid by thosewhose policies will be affected by it: as such, thework is driven by the funder with little opportunityfor researcher autonomy. These studies are often(especially by academics) seen as ’inferior’ toacademic research. However, this is often theresearch which has most influence in the policyprocess. The Tyndall Centre finds itself in thetension between these different approaches, withincreasing pressure for academic research to be ‘useful’ – either economically or politically relevant– and yet remain scientifically rigorous.A good example is the case of policy-relatedresearch which does not get published in academic journals because of the nature of such research(eg. it is not sufficiently novel but synthesises andpresents existing research in a new way). Theacademic system thus has a tendency to setsometimes arbitrary or contestable boundariesaround itself as a source of its objective authority inthe wider world. Another example is the process oproducing a PhD: as a matter of course, PhDstudents try to find a balance between policyusefulness/new methods and the traditionaldemands of thesis production.
If we recognise and are to address the post-normalnature of climate change research, we must do twothings:1. Aim to integrate knowledge from a very widerange of sources, both academic and lay. Thevalues inherent in the decision-making processmust be emphasised in integrated assessmentresearch. There is a need to build on traditionalscience and modelling and broaden research intoissues such as the context, psychology, emotionand morality behind decisions.2. Practically resolve the tensions outlined above. TheTyndall Centre was created to enhance capacity to dealwith climate change, not just to do curiosity-drivenresearch, and hence must be both academicallyrigorous and policy useful. This raises significant timeand resource issues, as the effort involved in continualbalancing of independence of research with frequentcommunication with outside organisations is large, as isthe practicality of communicating with many differentaudiences. One important step is to persuade fundingand supporting organisations to fully recognise non-peer reviewed work, such as submissions to House of Commons Select Committees. A PhD on new forms of science and how these may work in practice would be asignificant step towards understanding how this mightresolve.
Further Questions for Consideration
To stimulate further thought and discussion, here areseveral open-ended questions for general debate:In the longer term, how far are researchers willingto go to change how research is done?How might these changes come about, and howlong will it take?How do others perceive Tyndall’s approach, andwhat do we need to do to respond to this?Is academic research and all it represents losinginfluence in the policy process?What counts as ‘science’, and what ‘speculation’ or ‘advocacy’?Do we stand on the edge of a major transformationof human thought, or is this the ‘End of History’ phenomenon – that every generation believes theylive at a hugely significant time?How can research be user driven and academicallyrigorous in a world where quick results are neededcheaply, to the order of the funder? If a quickconsultancy scoping can give 75% of the necessaryinsight, what point is there in an academic studywhich will cost twice as much and take three timesas long and produce perhaps only 10% moreinsight? Can policy-relevant research ever besomething more than ‘consultancy’? Is this such abad thing?
Thanks to all who participated in the discussion at theTyndall Assembly 2003, especially Simon Shackley whochaired the discussion, and to those who providedcomments on this note.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->