• Offered by Centre for the Public Awareness of Science and the Crawford School of Public Policy
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific / ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Vice Chancellor Postgraduate

In 2020 the in-class dates are May 1, 8, 15; June 5, 12, 19

“Science and technology (S&T) affect—and insights rooted in understanding of S&T therefore are germane to formulating policy about—practically every issue on the agenda of governments: the economy, public health, education, energy, agriculture, environment, defence, diplomacy, and more" (Professor John Holdren, former Assistant to President Obama for Science & Technology and Director, White House Office of Science & Technology Policy). Australia is no less in need of understanding the interactions of science and technology with policy. This understanding includes the evidence S&T can provide to underpin policy, and the areas where science and technology could influence the directions of Australia in the absence of effective policy.

This course provides a comprehensive approach to exploring the interactions between science, technology and public policy across a suite of policy areas. It is built on a novel teaching collaboration between two ANU Colleges (Asia and the Pacific; and Science), bringing together expertise from the Crawford School of Public Policy and the Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science (CPAS).

It will be interactive, and every session will use policy experts along with academic staff to ensure relevance and depth in the analyses. The course will be flexible, and arranged to maximise access by students who may be either full or part-time. It will consist of two 6-unit components; the first will be a prerequisite for the second. The first 6 units will be split between sessions exploring theoretical and practical underpinnings of how science, technology and public policy are undertaken and case studies exploring how these underpinnings play out, and might need to be revised, in real-world public policy situations. The second 6 units will consist entirely of case studies of increasing complexity as students hone their skills in extracting lessons and developing deeper understanding from examples presented by experienced academics and practitioners of public policy.

Students will be allowed to take its first 6 units or the full 12 units as contributions towards a postgraduate qualification, the 12 unit option contributing to a Science, Technology and Public Policy specialization.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Understand major themes in studies of the relationship between scientific/technical evidence and other inputs into policy-making
  2. Develop robust ways of assessing diverse sources and forms of evidence for policy analysis and policy-making
  3. Understand key challenges in governing scientific and technological research and innovation, and the salient frameworks put forward for coping with these issues
  4. Critically reflect on lessons from a series of case studies at the interface of science, technology and public policy
  5. Recognise demands for transparency in STPP and develop better ways of engaging at the interface of science, technology, the public and other stakeholders

Indicative Assessment

  1. Mixture of short assignments modelled on policy briefings for ministers and longer assignments synthesising theory and practice and drawing lessons from case studies. (null) [LO null]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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Combination of class attendance and private studies equating to 130 hours.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

This course is incompatible with POGO8138 Science, Technology and Public Policy.

You will need to contact the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science or Crawford School of Public Policy to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts

None specified

Preliminary Reading

STPP Indicative Reading list

Articles and reports on overarching themes

Arimoto, T. & Sato, T. (2012) ‘Rebuilding Public Trust in Science for Policy-Making’ Science Vol 337:1176-7

Bray, H. J., & Ankeny, R. A. (2017). Not just about “the science”: science education and attitudes to genetically modified foods among women in Australia. New Genetics and Society, 36(1), 1-21.

Chubb, I., 2014. Australia needs a strategy. Science 345: 985

Flink, T. and Schreiterer, U., 2010. Science diplomacy at the intersection of S&T policies and foreign affairs: toward a typology of national approaches. Science and Public Policy, 37(9), pp.665-677.

Harris, P., 2013. The crowded chasm: Science in the Australian Government. In Doubleday, R. and Wilsdon, J.,(eds). Future directions for scientific advice in Whitehall. http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/47848/2/FDSAW_Wilsdon_Doubleday.pdf

Holdren, J.P., 2008. Science and technology for sustainable well-being. Science, 319(5862), pp.424-434.

Jasanoff, S., 2012. Science and public reason. New York: Routledge.

Pearce, W., M. Mahony and S. Raman. Science Advice for Global Challenges: learning from trade-offs in the IPCC. Environmental Science and Policy https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2017.11.017

Pettigrew, A.G., 2012. Australia's position in the world of science, technology & innovation. Office of the Chief Scientist https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/OPS2-OECD-for-web-FINAL.pdf

Leach, J., 2015. The Role of Science Communication in International Diplomacy. In L.S.Davis & R.G.Patman (eds) Science Diplomacy: New Day or False Dawn? World Scientific Publishing (pp. 155-169).

Stilgoe, J., Irwin, A., & Jones, K. (2006). The received wisdom. Opening up expert advice. London, Demos

Stirling, A. (2010) ‘Keep It Complex’ Nature 468, 1029-1031, 22 December 2010

Vilkins, S. and Grant, W.J., 2017. Types of evidence cited in Australian Government publications. Scientometrics, 113(3), pp.1681-1695.

Weinberg, A.M., 1972. Science and trans-science. Minerva, 10(2), pp.209-222.

Weingart, P. (1999) ‘Scientific expertise and political accountability: paradoxes of science in politics’, Science and Public Policy, 1999, Vol 26 No 3 pp 151-161

Wilsdon, J., Allen, K. and Paulavets, K., 2014. Science advice to governments: diverse systems, common challenges. Briefing paper for the Auckland conference, 28-29 August 2014. http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/53321/1/Science_Advice_to_Governments_Briefing_Paper_25-Aug-2014.pdf

Wilsdon, J., 2014. The past, present and future of the Chief Scientific Advisor. European Journal of Risk Regulation, 5(3), pp.293-299

Material to be curated from books

Arimoto, T., Sato, T., Matsuo, K. & H. Yoshikawa. 2016. Scientific Advice: Science, Technology, and Policy Making in the Twenty-First Century, University of Tokyo Press

Berkman, P.A., Lang, M.A., Walton, D.W. and Young, O.R., 2011. Science diplomacy: Antarctica, Science and the Governance of International Spaces. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution

Bijker, W.E., Bal, R. & Hendriks, R. (2009) The Paradox of Scientific Authority: the Role of Scientific Advice in Democracies, Boston: MIT Press

Cartwright, N. & Hardie, J. (2012) Evidence-based Policy: A Practical Guide to Doing it Better, Oxford: OUP

Douglas, H. 2009. Science, Policy and the Value-Free Ideal. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press

Ezrahi, Y. (1990) The Descent of Icarus: Science and the Transformation of Contemporary Democracy, Harvard University Press

Petersen. A.C. 2014. The Ethos of scientific advice: a pragmatist approach to uncertainty and ignorance in science and public policy. In H. de Regt and C. Kwa, eds., Building Bridges: Connecting Science, Technology and Philosophy – Essays presented to Hans Radder, Amsterdam: VU University Press, pp. 53–62

Case studies

Reading materials will be curated to reflect commentary/perspective pieces or brief reports from science and science policy studies in Nature, Science and other appropriate journals.

For example, on the case of CRISPR, we might select from:

Barrangou, R., Fremaux, C., Deveau, H., Richards, M., Boyaval, P., Moineau, S., Romero, D.A. and Horvath, P., 2007. CRISPR provides acquired resistance against viruses in prokaryotes. Science, 315(5819), pp.1709-1712.

Bosley, K.S., Botchan, M., Bredenoord, A.L., Carroll, D., Charo, R.A., Charpentier, E., Cohen, R., Corn, J., Doudna, J., Feng, G. and Greely, H.T., 2015. CRISPR germline engineering—the community speaks. Nature biotechnology, 33(5), p.478.

Hurlbut, J.B., Jasanoff, S., Saha, K., Ahmed, A., Appiah, A., Bartholet, E., Baylis, F., Bennett, G., Church, G., Cohen, I.G. and Daley, G., 2018. Building capacity for a global genome editing observatory: conceptual challenges. Trends in biotechnology https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tibtech.2018.04.009


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Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $4050
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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Autumn Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
Part 1
5619 25 Apr 2020 01 May 2020 08 May 2020 19 Jun 2020 In Person N/A

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