Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities

Post-normal times? New thinking about science and policy advice

On 16 October 2016, the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (SVT) organized a mini-symposium to honour Silvio Funtowicz’ 70th birthday

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The Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (SVT), University of Bergen wants to honour our dear colleague and Professor II Silvio Funtowicz on this special occasion.


Date: 21. October 2016

Venue: Bergens Sjøfartsmuseum

10.00 – 10.30     Welcome

10.30 – 11.30     Keynote lecture by Sir Peter Gluckman. ‘The realities of scientific advice to governments - why a post-normal perspective really matters’

11.30 – 12.30     Response from Professor Silvio Funtowicz and discussion

12.30 – 13.30     Lunch

13.30 - 14.00      Dr Fanny Verrax. ‘Post-Normal Science and Engineering Ethics ’

14.00 – 14.30     Dr Simon Meisch. ‘The Political of Post-Normal Science’

14.30 – 15.00     Dr Mimi Lam. ‘Straddling the Science-Policy Interface with Values in Fisheries’

15.00 – 15.15     Break

15.15 – 15.45     Dr Scott Bremer. ‘Post-normal climate science for adaptation in Bangladesh’

15.45 – 16.15     Dr Zora Kovacic. ‘Investigating science for governance through the lenses of complexity’

16.15 – 16:45     Dr Alice Benessia. ‘What I cannot create, I do not understand. Richard Feynman and the legitimation of technoscience’

16:45 - 17:15       Plenary discussion

The session before lunch will be chaired by Professor Matthias Kaiser,and after lunch by Professor Jeroen van der Sluijs.

19:30                     Dinner for invited guests at Grand Hotel Terminus

Silvio Funtowicz

Silvio Funtowicz is an analytic philosopher active in the field of science and technology studies. He began his career teaching mathematics, logic and research methodology in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the decade of 1980 he was a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, England. Until his retirement in 2011, he was a scientific officer at the Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC), European Commission – Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC). Since then he is an adjunct professor at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and Humanities (SVT) at the University of Bergen.

His collaboration with Jerry Ravetz resulted in the influential book Uncertainty and Quality in Science for Policy (1990), and a bit later the concept of post-normal science. Post-normal science shines a light on complex issues in science for governance characterized by high system uncertainties, stakes high, values and facts being intertwined and disputed, and decisions urgent. Key elements of a post normal science approach include appropriate exploration of uncertainty quality and value-ladenness, acknowledgement of a plurality of commitments and tenable (scientific) perspectives on the same body of knowledge, and internal and external extension of the peer community involved in quality control of the science. It is this framework of understanding pressing scientific issues which has influenced many scholars since its inception. Funtowicz has been a regular visitor to Norway since 1994, and has stimulated many PhDs and other research projects in Norway, and in Bergen in particular. His work has been cited roughly 15,000 times in many diverse publications.

In recent years the Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Sir Peter Gluckman, has added prominence to the concept of post-normal science and its approach to interfacing science and governance, through his claim that post-normal science perspectives should be at the core of all science advice to governments.

Silvio Funtowicz celebrated his 70th birthday in May 2016, and the SVT marks his achievements through this Mini-symposium.