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ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS: LETS GET HONEST ABOUT SCIENCE, POLICY, AND ADVOCACY
Lackey, R T. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS: LETS GET HONEST ABOUT SCIENCE, POLICY, AND ADVOCACY. Presented at Taking Advantage of New Opportunities for Environmental Sciences, Portland, OR, September 19-21, 2003.
Those of us who are involved in undergraduate education should change the current situation where many, arguably most, students graduating from environmental programs have a limited appreciation of the proper role of science in ecological policy deliberations. To be fair, perhaps many students do appreciate the appropriate role of science in policy deliberations, but their actions often do not follow. And, in my experience, most ecological policy deliberations are fraught with the rampant misuse of science. Misuse, unfortunately, due to a conscious choice by some participants to use science in a way to bolster or sell a preferred policy outcome. Worse, the misuse is done by individuals purporting to be providing policy-neutral, unbiased science. Politically, the misuse of science appears span the ideological spectrum. It seems no less common on the left or the right, nor on the green or libertarian side. Is science in danger of becoming so politicized as to be of marginal use in divisive ecological policy debates? To what extent are we educators contributing to this? Students in my policy classes, who tend to come mostly from the natural sciences, mostly appear to understand the fundamental differences between policy-relevant but policy-neutral science, but many do not operate that way. The ability of scientists, and scientific information generally, to constructively inform policy deliberations is diminished when what was offered as "science" is subtly inculcated with personal policy preferences. Such so-called "scientific" information is normative because it contains tacit policy preferences and thus, by extension, promotes particular policy options.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB
WESTERN ECOLOGY DIVISION