J. Z. Buchwald

Sheila Jasanoff

Friday, 19 November 2010, 15:00, ATC Auditorium, EMBL Heidelberg

Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard University

Scientific Integrity in a Changing Context


Concerns about the integrity of science are not new, but they have lately returned to public view through a number of high-visibility scandals, ranging from “climategate” to worries about research integrity and conflicts of interest at prominent universities such as Harvard. In this talk, I argue that complex changes in the production and representation of scientific knowledge require a rethinking of the very concept of scientific integrity. Too often associated with truth-telling and personal honesty, integrity discussions often focus on the conduct of the individual at a time when science increasingly is morphing into collective, distributed, and frequently cross-cultural modes of production. In these circumstances, ideas of accountability may better ensure public confidence in the products of science than policies or principles that home in on individual conduct alone. The challenge for research institutions is to create cultures of accountability, in which notions of collective responsibility are cultivated along with individual honesty. I will address the practical difficulties of implementing such an approach using insights from law and science and technology studies.

Short biography

Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School. A pioneer in her field, she has authored more than 100 articles and chapters and is author or editor of a dozen books, including Controlling Chemicals, The Fifth Branch, Science at the Bar, and Designs on Nature. Her work explores the role of science and technology in the law, politics, and policy of modern democracies, with particular attention to the nature of public reason. She was founding chair of the STS Department at Cornell University and has held numerous distinguished visiting appointments in the US, Europe, and Japan. Jasanoff served on the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and as President of the Society for Social Studies of Science. Her grants and awards include a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship and an Ehrenkreuz from the Government of Austria. She holds AB, JD, and PhD degrees from Harvard, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Twente.