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Visiting PhD fellow

The use of quantitative science for governance

Zora Kovacic is a visiting PhD fellow from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona who will stay three months at the SVT.

word cloud on theme governance


The title of her project is "The use of quantitative science for governance: How to assess the promises of a sustainable future".

Zora Kovacic is a PhD candidate in the Integrated Assessment group with Mario Giampietro and works on science for governance. She focuses on participatory quality control of the production and consumption of quantitative indicators used in sustainability science. Her research checks the viability and feasibility of knowledge claims at different scales of analysis and looks at the desirability of the narratives adopted by different social actors.

Project description

More and more in sustainability studies, it is recognized that there is a serious problem to be faced when generating quantitative data to be used in decision-making (Funtowicz and Ravetz 1990; Porter 1995). Quantitative analysis reflects previous normative judgements, making it difficult to approach the question of “what will really matter tomorrow for us or our descendants” (Stiglitz et al. 2009: 242).

Sustainability problems are complex issues, which require the simultaneous consideration of multiple scales of analysis and of the plurality of perceptions, needs and capabilities present in society. The development of smart grids and their promises for a sustainable future will be used as a case study given the high level of uncertainty that surrounds this technology and the urgent need for sustainable energy use.

The use of automated management systems for electricity grids in both a way to deal with the uncertainty implied by the challenge of integrating renewable energy sources in the energy system, and a source of uncertainty with respect to the privacy issues raised by the collection of information on private electricity consumption habits.

The aim of the project is to assess both the normative and descriptive aspects of the representations of smart grids currently used. This research will be carried out in cooperation with the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities, specialized on the ethical and social aspects of science and technology.