GSA-China at the International Summit

Dr. Joy Zhang was invited to deliver two talks on key findings from this ESRC project at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing.

Dr. Zhang first expressed her concern over a ‘public engagement-deficit’ in China’s rise as a global scientific power in her Summit presentation. During the Summit, Chinese scientist Jiankui He’s announcement of the birth of gene-edited twins cast a shadow over ethical governance in this field. Drawing on empirical findings from the GSA-China project, Dr. Zhang’s urge for a professional cultural and structural change within China and her call for the international communities to not only collaborate with China scientifically but also to co-develope public engagement capacity in and with China seemed to be most timely.

The audience at the Summit responded to her presentation with a ‘Bravo’. The following day, China’s leading science blog translated her speech in full. The full video of Dr Zhang’s talk, and the panel discussion she took part can be accessed here.

In a post-summit event organised by the Royal Society, Dr. Zhang delivered a second talk on how to interpret state-science-society relations in China.

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Invited Lecture at China’s Ministry of Science and Technology

Later in October, Dr Joy Zhang gave a lecture to staff at China’s Ministry of Science and Technology at the invitation of CASTED, the Ministry’s research arm. The lecture, titled ’The Comopolitanization of Science and the Search for a “Chinese Voice”’, drew on findings from this ESRC project.  It reviewed the standards of ‘good governance’ in global science and put forward a candid criticism that China’s traditional governing approach had repeatedly failed to gain public confidence in its scientific agendas both at home and abroad. She further suggested practical ways to developing public engagement capacity and enhance openness at multiple levels.
Three of CASTED’s Directors came to the lecture and commended on the EMR training initiatives proposed by Dr. Zhang. We were also much encouraged by an email sent by one of the Directors who noted that such training was a matter of ‘urgency’.
Following her visiting-fellowship at the Beijing University of Technology earlier this autumn, Dr. Zhang will visit China again next Spring and roll out further training and idea exchange events on promoting public dialogues of science in collaboration with partners in the Chinese Academy of Science and Chinese Medical Association.
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Publication 6 – Final Project Report

Zhang, J. Y. (2018) Governing Scientific Accountability in China. Final Report of the ESRC Research Project. Canterbury: GSA-China. online access: https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/gsa-news/files/2018/01/GSA-Project-Report.pdf

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UK-China Dialogue at GSA-China’s Concluding Conference 

On 22 and 23 February, we held a second international conference of this ESRC project at the British Academy. 30 delegates who are leading figures in their respective fields in China and the UK joined the discussion.

The event featured two keynote presentations and six sessions. Baroness Onora O’Neill’s thought-provoking opening keynote reflected on ways of conceptualising trust, trustworthiness and intelligent accountability. Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser’s extremely engaging keynote ‘Scientist, Public and the Great Wall’ examined the ingroup/outgroup phenomena in science-society interface, and discussed intervention points where a different culture can be nurtured to help dismantling the ‘great wall’ that seems to have isolated science from the general public.

In her presentation, Dr. Zhiqin Du, Deputy Secretary General of the Chinese Medical Association (CMA) lauded the Educational Module Resource (EMR) created and promoted by this GSA-China project as ‘an excellent experiment’ and expressed that the CMA looked forward ‘to joining forces in the promotion of this topic in China’. This point was later echoed by Professor Xian-En Zhang, former Director General of Basic Research at China’s Ministry of Science.

The conference concluded with a closed roundtable discussion. As there was strong recognition from both British and Chinese participants on the rare momentum the project had created on the promotion of public engagement in China, key partners involved discussed practicalities in taking the UK-China Consortium on Scientific Communication forward.

The full Conference Report, written by Research Officer Tom Douglass can be accessed here: https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/gsa-news/files/2018/03/Conference-report.pdf

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Project Report Released

A report on the key findings, outputs and deliverables of this research project can be accessed here: GSA-Project-Report

 

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Conference Registration Opens!

This ESRC project’s concluding conference, Governing Trust in the Biosciences, is now open for registration.

The conference will be held on 22-23 February 2018 at the British Academy in London. It aims to promote cross-cultural dialogues on good governance and effective accountability between China and the UK. The discussion may be of particular interest to people working in the area of national and transnational science policy, public engagement, and the social studies of trust and accountability.

Confirmed speakers include Baroness Onora O’Neill, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Professor Nikolas Rose, the Deputy Secretary General of the Chinese Medical Association and officials from Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

For full conference programme click here.

Registration is free but space is limited. For more information and to register for this event, please contact Research Officer, Tom Douglass,  td216@kent.ac.uk

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GSA-China Welcomes Tom Douglass as the New Research Officer

Tom Douglass, PhD Candidate at the SSPSSR, has joined the team as the research officer. He will work with Dr. Joy Zhang on dissemination of research findings, project outreach as well as on the project’s final conference ‘Governing Trust in Biosciences: Institutional and Cultural Change’ to be held on 22 and 23 February 2018 at the British Academy.

Graduated with the highest average on his degree programme, Tom was awarded with a BA (1st Class) in Sociology and Social Policy and later earned an MA in Social Research Methods, both from Russell Group universities. Tom won the prestigious University of Kent’s 50th Anniversary scholarship, which supports highly selective candidates with ‘academic excellence and outstanding research potential’.

Tom’s current research examines ‘pharmaceuticalisation’ in the UK with a focus on the prevention of cardiovascular disease. In addition, he has also contributed to the teaching on core undergraduate modules, such as Fundamentals of Sociology (SO337), Sociology of Everyday Life (SO336), and Contemporary Sociological Theory (SO727).

Tom’s work on the regulation of pharmaceuticals and trust in healthcare have been published as book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles.

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Prof. Gao and Dr. Liao Bring the EMR to Leading Chinese Universities

This week, Chinese partners, Prof. Lu Gao and Dr. Miao Liao brought the Educational Module Resource (EMR) to science postgraduates at Tsinghua University. The decision to incorporate EMR into the course, Innovation and the Development of Science &Technology, as explained by the module convenor Prof. Zhengfeng Li, was to give students ‘a more comprehensives understanding of innovation’. Students’ feedback confirmed that content of the EMR helped them to be more sensitive about how to approach and communicate ‘unknown unknowns’ in emerging science.

A key deliverable of this ESRC project, the pilot 7 lectures of the EMR are arguably the first attempt to develop an educational resource on public engagement training that speaks to Chinese particularities. It aims to fill the gap of public engagement training in Chinese science curriculum.

Earlier this month, sections of the EMR have also been integrated into Yantai University compulsory module, Dialectics of Nature, which is taken by more than 500 postgraduate students across science and engineering majors. Owing to Prof Gao’s and Dr Liao’s effective outreach and strong commitment, other leading Chinese institutions, such as the Beijing Institute of Technology, the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, and a number of research institutions of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have agreed to adopted sections of the EMR into their existing autumn modules.

This pilot run of the EMR is expected to generate valuable insights on institutionalising public engagement education in China. Prof. Goa and Dr. Liao will share their findings next February at this project’s final conference, Governing Trust in the Biosciences: Institutional and Cultural Change at the British Academy in London.

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Publication 5 – How to be modern? The social negotiation of ‘good food’ in contemporary China

Zhang, J. Y. (2017). How to be modern? The social negotiation of ‘good food’ in contemporary China. Sociology, forthcoming

Abstract:

Developing safe and sustainable food production for its population has been central to China’s ‘Modernisation Project’. Yet recent fieldwork in 3 Chinese cities suggests that there are two conflicting views on what a ‘modern’ agriculture should look like. For the government, modernisation implies a rational calculation of scale and a mirroring of global trends. But an alternative interpretation of modernity, promoted by civil society, has been gaining ground. For this camp, good food production is then established through a ‘rhizomic’ spread of new practices, which are inspired by world possibilities but are deeply rooted in the local context. Based on 14 interviews and 5 focus groups, this paper investigates the ongoing social negotiation of ‘good food’ in China. It demonstrates how a non-Western society responds to the twin processes of modernisation and globalisation and provides insights on the varieties of modernity in the making.

Key words: China, food, globalisation, grobalisation, social movement, varieties of modernities,

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Bernotaite presents at BSA’s Study Day on Risk and the Media

On Friday, September 8, BSA held a workshop on Risk and the Media, Research Officer, Ausma Bernotaite presented her work on risk frames of Golden Rice, a genetically modified food product, representation in the Philippine and Bangladeshi media.

Bernotaite drew on her work of contested media representations of GMO risk in Bangladeshi and Philippine media to argue that through different focus of GM food and public health perceptions and voicing arguments of varying groups of stakeholders, the two countries were able to construct radically different public discourses in the mainstream newspaper media. With a particular focus on a GM food product called Golden Rice, Bernotaite noted that the different forms in which these contentions were portrayed are in line with the quick research, field trial and document submission for further approval.

BSA’s Risk and Society Study Group has been an important research cluster at the University of Kent. This year’s event focused on risk in the media, and upcoming events will further explore the role of risk plays in social sciences.

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