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Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities

Post-normal science

Post-normal science in practice

In December 2014 SVT organized a mini-symbosium focusing on post-normal science. If you are interested to see more of the symposium, please follow the links at the right of this side.

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foto av gate gjennom vindu
Photo:
Alice Benessia

Over twenty years ago, Silvio Funtowicz and Jerome Ravetz put forward a framework of scientific inquiry called "Post-Normal Science", an approach to interface science and policy that is appropriate for cases where "facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent" (Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1991). 

Post-normal science is an approach to interface science and policy in cases where decisions need to be made before conclusive scientific evidence is available. Often, a single and conclusive scientific answer will not be available for highly complex systems such as fisheries, climate, society and the human body.In such cases, more research does not necessarily lead to less uncertainty, but can lead to unforeseen complexity. Values are often in dispute when the potential impacts of decisions based on uncertain science have very large consequences.

The motivation of this symposium is the arrival of our new professor, Jeroen van der Sluijs, from the University of Utrecht. Jeroen just started his position at our Centre in November, and since he was the first to put into action the post-normal science approach and the NUSAP scheme to a methodology of Knowledge Quality Assessment in the late 1990’s, we are hosting a symposium to highlight the development in this area.