SCK•CEN Academy workshop on energy governance and the politics of hypothesis

March 24 - 25, 2014   Brussel (BELGIUM)

This workshop is part of the workshop series Exploring the Science, Politics and Ethics of Nuclear Technology Assessment.

The workshop series aim to explore the science, politics and ethics of nuclear technology assessment. They do so by analysing the complexity of nuclear risk governance and by linking these insights to the question of how approaches to knowledge generation and decision making could ‘generate societal trust’. The idea is that this trust would need to be generated ‘by method instead of proof’, regardless of whether the outcome of decision making would be acceptance or rejection of the technology.

Obviously the complexity of assessment described above does not only affect nuclear technology assessment alone but also that of other applications of science and technology, such as the use of genetically modified organisms, fossil fuels for energy production or mobile phones. While the character of their assessment and of their impact on our habitat and social environment is different, the argument is that, for all of them, questions and answers related to their justification imply a critical deliberate use of knowledge and values in science, politics and public discourse. Therefore, the workshop series do not only provide better insight into the complexity of nuclear risk governance but also serve to discuss general political and ethical aspects of the role and functioning of science and technology in society.

With this general approach, each year, the workshop takes a specific focus. The first workshop, held in 2012, explored the relation between science and policy and reflected on the theory and practice of science and technology studies, technology assessment, risk governance, transdisciplinarity, mixed methods and future studies. The workshop of 2013 dealt with how nuclear technology assessment as a scientific practice affects democracy and vice-versa.