Changing Expectations for Science and Scientists in Natural Resource and Environmental Policy

By Brent S. Steel, Rebecca Warner and Denise Lach.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Science plays an important role in environmental policy since it not only helps to identify potential environmental problems, but also informs potential solutions to those problems. Therefore, many policy makers, interest groups, resource managers and interested citizens have called for a more science-based environmental policy. This study replicates a previous Pacific Northwest case study where we examined attitudes of scientists, natural resource managers, interest groups, and the public concerning the role of science and scientists in the environmental policy process. In a series of 2006-07 interviews and surveys with national samples of these four groups, we find that there are significant differences about what constitutes science, including the acceptability of positivism; a preference among many interest groups and citizens for research scientists to work closely with managers to interpret and integrate scientific findings into management decisions; and, for those respondents with positivist orientations, some interest in scientific advocacy and decision-making by ecological scientists. We also found that ecological scientists and managers were less supportive of active roles for scientists in the environmental policy process.

Keywords: Science Policy, Positivism, Post-Normal Science, Environmental Policy

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 9, pp.1-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 509.086KB).

Prof. Brent S. Steel

Professor, Political Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

Brent S. Steel is professor of political science and director of the Master of Public Policy program at Oregon State University (OSU). He is an adjunct faculty member in Marine Resources Management, Natural Resources, Environmental Science, Water Resources Policy and Management, and a member of the OSU Rural Studies Executive Committee. His research interests include comparative rural policy, natural resource policy, and the development of civil society. He has taught, conducted research, and engaged in program development in many countries including Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Nepal, Russia (Siberia and the Far-east), and South Korea.

Prof. Rebecca Warner

Professor, Department of Sociology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

Professor Rebecca L. Warner has conducted research on the role of science in the policy process and the intersection of gender and science.

Prof. Denise Lach

Professor, Sociology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

Denise Lach is Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Water Resources Policy and Management Program at Oregon State University. Her research focuses on science policy, water policy, and knowledge networks as they apply to environmental policy processes.

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