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Location: Center Home > Meet Us > Roger Pielke > ENVS 5100 > envs5100

Science and Technology Policy

Syllabus for ENVS 5100-002
University of Colorado – Spring 2005

Roger A. Pielke, Jr.
Tuesdays 11:00-1:30 PM

Office Hours:  

Tuesdays 2:00-4:00 PM and by appointment
Location: CIRES Center for Science and Technology Policy, 1333 Grandview Ave (View map).

Contact Information:

Phone:  303-735-3940

Overview and Purpose of the Course

The National Research Council posits that universities today “have a double duty:”

to educate and train not only those who will have careers in research, but also those who will become entrepreneurs, managers, consultants, investors, or policy makers. Universities also can play a more active role in helping students to prepare for these roles.

And the American Association for the Advancement of Science observes that to improving national science policy,

Above all, we in the research community must find ways to link R&D priority decisions more effectively to societal goals without compromising scientific excellence and the autonomy of individual researchers.

To help fill this need, in 2003 the University of Colorado approved a new educational program to prepare students pursuing graduate degrees for careers at the intersection of science, technology and decision making.  This course is the first in a 3-course sequence within the Graduate Certificate Program in Science and Technology Policy.

Graduate study provides students with an opportunity to gain expertise within a particular disciplinary or interdisciplinary specialty.    Such expertise is essential to the processes of creating new knowledge and integrating existing knowledge to produce novel insights.  

But society looks to experts to do more than conduct research and produce knowledge.  Increasingly, society looks to experts to play a central role in securing the benefits of the nation’s investment in knowledge, while at the same time, helping to protect against the misuse or unintended consequences of science and technology.  In short, society expects experts to play a central role in improving decision making in public, private and civic settings.

But society needs experts to do more than simply provide knowledge.  Increasingly, experts must play a central role in helping society to secure the benefits of society’s investment in knowledge, and in helping to protect against the misuse or unintended consequences of knowledge.  More specifically, the expert must do more than provide knowledge to the decision process from a distance; the expert must participate in the process to help ensure that good outcomes result. 

Science and technology result in a broad range of impacts on society.  The impacts can be positive, such as the advances in health care over the twentieth century, or they can be negative, such as in the prospect of a terrorist attack using biological agents.  The impacts of science and technology on society depend on the decisions we make and decision processes we implement for the governance of science and technology.  Given the central role played by science and technology in modern society it is critical to develop expertise at the interface of science, technology and decision making. 

For example, such a need was palpable in the comments of Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, the Chair of the House Science Committee, speaking about the need for changes to the governance of science and technology wrought by the events of September 11, 2001, “Our homeland security efforts will fail if R&D is not at their core.” But he noted as well, “Truth be told, I don't think anyone's yet even fully thought through the most basic question - in what ways do we want research related to homeland security to be different after this reorganization?”   By “different” Congressman Boehlert refers not to the projects that comprise a particular research agenda but the implications of homeland security for the organization, prioritization, use and limitation of science and technology in support of the nation’s security goals.  Answering such questions in terms of homeland security, covering a broad range of technical areas such as information technology, environment, nanotechnology, biotechnology, etc. requires a view of science and technology that is interdisciplinary, integrative and focused as much on policy outcomes as scientific quality.

Society’s demand for more useful and more relevant research is a message that has been heard loud and clear by the scientific community, with resulting calls for an evolution of graduate education.  For example, according to a report of the National Research Council, society today expects those with advanced graduate training, “to contribute to new debates on public policy, to improve our competitive position in global markets, to help to create high-value jobs, and to improve the education of citizens at many levels.”  

But in this context, Chubin (2000) identified science and technology policy as an important area needing attention by educators.

If we do not replenish a cadre of S&T-savvy analysts, anecdotes will dominate policy debates. While the science community mulls about the composition of its future workforce, it must also help produce the next generation of S&T policy analysts and politically conscious citizens. Between public policy/administration programs and "science and technology (S&T studies)" programs, there should be a diverse pool of potential analysts being trained and then connected, as a career choice, to the apparatus of federal policymaking.

Yet, recognizing demand for improved connections of science and society and asserting its importance is not the same as meeting that demand.  Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University, notes of the connections between science and decision making, “successful linkages between the two have been extremely difficult to forge.”  He further observes

We devote very little intellectual energy toward improving our incomplete understanding of the science-policy interface and the institutions focusing on this interface. Our scientific and technical abilities far outstrip our decision making methods and ability to understand the relationship between science and its many outcomes.

This course seeks to introduce students to science and technology policy research and as a result, set the stage for improved understandings of science and technology, and their broader outcomes in society.

Requirements of the Course

Seminar Format

The course is a seminar, which means that we each share responsibility for pedagogy.  There are a considerable amount of readings in the course and consequently the course has been structured in a way to allow for sharing responsibility for learning.  The formal requirements of the course include informal weekly one pagers, 3 weeks of student-led issues, 2 weeks for each of you of leading seminar discussions, and an individual term project.


There are a lot of readings for this class.  All readings will be made available by the course WWW site in PDF format.

There are 4 books that we will read for the class:

Hilgartner, S. 2000. Science on Stage, Stanford University Press.
Sarewitz, D. 1996. Frontiers of Illusion, Temple University Press.
Kitcher, P. 2001. Science, Truth, and Democracy, Oxford University Press.
Greenberg, D. 2001. Science, Money, and Politics, University of Chicago Press.

Guest Speakers

We currently have several guest speakers lined up.  These include:

  • John Marburger, Science Advisor to President G.W. Bush, 2001-present
  • Dan Sarewitz, Director, Center for Science, Policy and Outcomes, Arizona State University
  • Bob Palmer, Chief of Staff, Democratic Office of the House Science Committee, 1993-2004
  • Lisa Keranen, Professor of Communications, University of Colorado

As opportunities allow, we may also have other guests able to join our class. 

Also, with luck we will have a continuing cameo appearance in the course from Rad Byerly, of the CIRES Policy Center, and also retired Chief of Staff of the House Science Committee.

Weekly One Pagers

Every week you are expected to turn in a one-page essay.  The essay will be due every monday to be submitted via the course email list-serv:

You might consider addressing the following two items in your submission:

  1. The most important thing I learned from the class discussion and/or readings was . . .
  2. The thing I still don’t understand is . . .

You are of course free to discuss any topic related to the class beyond these two questions as well.

The purpose of this exercise is to allow you an opportunity to discuss aspects of the readings, integrate other material with the week’s focus, or to raise questions about what was unclear or unanswered by the readings.  A secondary purpose is to ensure that you have an opportunity to provide me with feedback on the readings and your progress/satisfaction in the course.

Seminar Leads

For weeks 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15 I will ask each of you to select 2 or 3 of these weeks to organize and lead the seminar discussion.  You are free to organize the class in whatever manner makes sense and you are free to add supplementary materials to the readings.  Some ideas are preparation of “reader’s guides” to the week’s readings, role play, field trip, invited guest, lecture, questions posed for discussion, etc.  You are free to assign a deliverable (e.g., short paper) to the class.

Faculty Interviews

I’d like each of you to interview a faculty member who is participating in the STP program and to report back to the class.  Details on this will be provided in the first few weeks of the term.

Individual Term Projects

You will be responsible for completing a semester-long project on a topic of your choosing.  The project must result in a deliverable, however, the deliverable can take many forms.  You can write a paper, prepare an issue overview summary, a weblog, a poster for presentation at a conference, organize a workshop, prepare a proposal for funding, etc. etc.  I would like a 1 page description of your final project by February 17.


Your grade will be determined as based on you class participation, the weekly one pagers, seminar leads, and individual term project.