Roberta Berry, J.D., Ph.D., will be leading a talk titled, “Contentious Policy Problems in Bioscience and Biotechnology: Theory, Practice, and Pedagogy”.
Certain policy problems generated by bioscience research and innovation give rise to acrimonious and unproductive debate, often accompanied by policy gridlock. Examples of these “fractious problems” include human embryonic stem cell research, sex-selection and other reproductive technologies, the use of neuroimaging to predict dangerousness, and the use of DNA for forensic identification. Five shared features explain the policy dysfunction of fractious problems in pluralistic political communities: novelty, complexity, ethically fraught embedded issues, unavoidable public dimensions, and unavoidable divisiveness regarding these public dimensions. A proposed “navigational approach” to policymaking addresses this policy dysfunction by tailoring the policy process to the distinctive features of fractious problems. This presentation will discuss the theory and potential practice of navigational policymaking and describe an ongoing National Science Foundation-funded grant project piloting an experimental approach to cultivating “navigational skills” in future bioscience, bioengineering, law, and policy professionals.