Review: International conference »The Next Horizon of TA«

The final conference of the EU project "Parliaments and Civil Society in Technology Assessment" (PACITA) took place in Berlin from 25 to 27 February 2015.
Patricia Lips ITAS
Patricia Lips, Member of the Bundestag
pacita konferenz ITAS
Conference on Technology Assessment at the Environmental Forum Berlin

The conference, organised by TAB operator ITAS at the Umweltforum Berlin, was opened by Patricia Lips, Chair of the Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment of the German Bundestag. In 50 sessions, participants discussed current research issues in technology assessment under the title "The Next Horizon of Technology Assessment". In her keynote address, Naomi Oreskes, Professor at Harvard University in the USA, used the example of climate research to illustrate how the discrediting of science by political lobby groups has succeeded in the USA. Nevertheless, the USA is still dominated by an unbroken belief in technology ("technofideism"). What technology assessment, and in particular the (parliamentary) TA institutions institutionalized in Europe, can do to counter this was the subject of numerous presentations during the three-day conference.

Roger Pielke Jr., professor at the University of Colorado (USA), reflected on the interplay between technology assessment and politics in his keynote address "Technology Assessment as Political Myth?". How are scientific research findings incorporated into political processes? And how do science and politics each engage in science policy discourses?

Together with partners from the European network of parliamentary TA institutions (EPTA Network), TAB organised a session on 26 February with members of parliament from various European countries on the topic of "Powerlines - Politics and Public Debate About Infrastructure for the Energy Turnaround".

How the strengthening of knowledge-based decision-making processes could also succeed in Europe was the subject of numerous thematic sessions. One of the methodological issues discussed was how to integrate the knowledge of citizens into technology assessment processes. This demand - among others - can also be found in the final manifesto of the project "Parliaments and Civil Society in Technology Assessment" (PACITA): "Citizens in Europe have a democratic right to be heard about the technological development, since technology is strongly influencing their lives". The manifesto is available on the project website. A conference volume is also planned.


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