How the Social Sciences Can Enhance Scientific Advice

Saturday, February 18, 2017: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Room 311 (Hynes Convention Center)
Pearl Dykstra, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands
The large majority of science advisors world-wide have a background in the natural sciences, engineering, or medicine. However, the social sciences have an important role to play as well. Using examples from cybersecurity, environmental sustainability and air safety, I will show that a social sciences perspective provides critical insights for policy makers over and above technological solutions. The unique contributions of the social sciences lie in the consideration of motivations, incentives, value choices, power dynamics, and institutional constraints.

In the presentation, I will provide a perspective of how the social sciences can help not only to inform policies, but also to enhancing public trust in science and science advice overall. The academic enterprise is subjected to greater public scrutiny, and scientific authority is under fire. There is an asymmetry between the ease of destroying trust and the difficulty of regaining it. Restoration of trust in science requires a degree of openness and involvement with the public that are increasingly being attempted by social scientists, in partnership with other disciplines.