Science with and for society within global environmental issues

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“Science with and for society within global environmental issues : towards a new model of governance ? Interdisciplinary perspectives.”


Jean-Gabriel Contamin CERAPS Université Lille Nord de France,

Martine Legris Revel CERAPS Université Lille Nord de France,

The progressive awareness of environmental risks highlighted the interdependence of the economic, social and environmental stakes. Regarding climate change for example, " even though the governments would succeed in getting on each other to implement very quickly ambitious and effective policies of mitigation, additional policies will be necessary to adapt societies and economies to the increases of temperature which will occur anyway. These adaptation policies will be necessary and important all the more as the policies of mitigation will be modest " (report SHS and environment Athéna alliance, 2012). This interdependence between countries and governments implies a more participatory governance that would foster people involvement as well as sociotechnical problems discussion, including the models of society underlying them (knowledge society, transition towns etc).

Besides the adaptation to the climate change, two other important themes emerge with these global environmental risks: the conflicts and the environmental disparities.

The large-scale negative effects which result from these risks and the necessary efforts to reduce them or limit them drive to instigating conflicts between diverse actors and at various institutional levels. Looking for solutions requires the involvement of stakeholders beyond the technical experts (Callon, Lascoumes, Barthe, 2001). Participation is thus necessary to meet the general desire to implement public engagement “upstream”, i.e. during the early stages of research and development. 

Participative engagement in research on science and technology can overcome cognitive closures by forcing different participants to take each other’s views seriously. This helps overcome expert bias in that expert opinions are taken seriously as an important contribution to socially constructed knowledge but are recognised as one among several such sources.

The classic questions of the political science are so questioned (the limits of the concept of State, the citizenship etc.), as well as the modalities of organization of the public decision - and thus of the democratic government- allowing to adapt itself to the ecological emergencies (Bourg, Whiteside, 2010).

This panel is interested in the mobilization and commitment of the experts, but also of the concerned populations and their elected representatives, in the diagnosis, the discussion and the definition of solutions of environmental issues. The considered scales are diverse, from local, regional, to national designs of participation or mobilization. We suggest crossing the approaches regarding technical democracy, regarding sciences and society, green political theory and participatory research. What are the modes of co conception of the studies and the researches which allow to realize a shared diagnosis and to develop collectively solutions? Which are the existing tensions between institutionalized participatory designs, citizen mobilization and environmental questions? To what extent the debate between experts and laymen about sociotechnics controversies contributes to enlighten the decision? What is the place of public authorities in these new forms of cooperation ?

Discutante : Martine Legris Revel, researcher, Ceraps, Lille 2 university

Session chairman: Jean Gabriel Contamin, professor, Ceraps, Lille 2 university.

participation gouvernance environnementale expertise décision Déliberation; Participation; Démocratie; participation du public