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
A report on the key findings, outputs and deliverables of this research project can be accessed here: GSA-Project-Report
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, email@example.com
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.
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.
Zhang, J. Y. (2017). How to be modern? The social negotiation of ‘good food’ in contemporary China. Sociology, forthcoming
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,
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.
Zhang, J. Y. (2017) ‘Lost in Translation? Accountability and Governance of Clinical Stem Cell Research in China’, Regenerative Medicine, online access:
Despite China’s regulatory initiatives to promote its research accountability, it still needs to prove itself as a trusted player in life science research. In addition, in contrast to its huge investment, China is losing the race in delivering quality application of stem cells. The trial implementation of the 2015 ministerial regulations seemed to offer hope in ending this dual ‘lost-in-translation’. Yet skepticism remains. By examining China’s regulatory trajectory in the last 15 years, this paper illustrates that it is a post-hoc pragmatic policy rationale and a soft centralisation regulatory approach that have hampered China’s governance. To improve China’s governance of accountability, policy-makers need to get beyond an ‘act-in-response’ regulatory ethos and engage with diverse stakeholders.
We welcome Dr. Miao Liao from Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development (CASTED), Ministry of Science and Technology, to join our research team on Governing Scientific Accountability in China. Dr. Liao is to work with Dr Joy Zhang to develop an Educational Module Resource (EMR) on the public engagement of science for key Chinese institutions.
The need to establish an EMR with locally-adapted teaching material to support scientific practitioners and educators learning about research-related practices, was identified in our Wuhan workshop this March. A pilot multi-media EMR (equivalent to 10 teaching hours) is expected to be launched in September. It aims to provide key Chinese institutions that participated in the Wuhan workshop with hands-on guidance on public engagement of science.
*Featured image: Dr Liao (second from left) at the ‘Scientific Risk and Public Engagement’ Wuhan workshop, March 2017.
Zhang, J. Y. (2017). ‘Transparency Is a Growth Industry’, Nature, 545, S65.
A fierce public debate over the safety of genetically modified food has put pressure on Chinese researchers to engage with the public about their work… read the full article here: