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University behind key science studies conference

University of Canterbury

news release
29 January 2004

Canterbury University behind key science studies conference

The relationship between science and society will be examined at a conference in Akaroa next week.

The Technologies, Publics and Power Conference has been organised by the National Centre for Research on Europe and the Science and Technology Studies Network, both based at the University of Canterbury. The European Union is a major sponsor of the five-day conference which opens on Sunday 1 February. Other sponsors include the University’s HIT Lab and New Zealand Institute of Gene Ecology, as well as the Royal Society of New Zealand.

The chairman of the conference organising committee, Dr Joanna Goven of Canterbury’s School of Political Science and Communications, said relations between "science and society" or "technology and the public" were increasingly a preoccupation of scientific, business, and governmental elites.

“One important reason for this is public opposition to the deployment of already developed technologies. The public opposition to genetically modified food, in particular, has catalysed interest in societal or public understanding of science, trust or mistrust of experts, and attitudes towards technology. At the same time, it has fed public demands for more control over the technological developments that will affect their lives and their environments.”

Dr Goven said these concerns were increasingly shaping public research funding agendas in both New Zealand and the European Union.

The conference seeks to bring together New Zealanders, Europeans, and others working in these areas to share research findings and approaches.

Keynote speakers include: Debra Harry, Executive Director of the Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, USA; Ida-Elisabeth Andersen, Project Manager at the Danish Board of Technology; Michael Burgess, Chair in Biomedical Ethics at the Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, University of British Columbia and Rob Hagendijk, Dean of International School for Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam.

ENDS

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