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Home > Focus > An Introduction to the Agri/Cultures Project

An Introduction to the Agri/Cultures Project

by Redazione FGB [1], 10 August 2015

Readers may be interested to learn that Fern Wickson [2], program coordinator of the Society, Ecology and Ethics Department (SEED) at GenØk Centre for Biosafety [3] in Tromsø, Norway and member of the VIRI [4], is currently leading the new "Agri/Cultures Project [5]".

This is a four-year research project funded by the Norwegian Research council's FRIPRO programme for young research talents. The focus of the Agri/Cultures Project is on developing novel concepts, methods and empirical knowledge for understanding and assessing the complex relational networks embodied in and performed by agricultural biotechnologies.

The project seeks to:

a) develop new ways of thinking about and researching GMOs that sees them not as isolated technological objects that can be assessed on their own but rather as dynamic networks of social, ecological and technical relations that have to be considered and assessed as a package.

b) generate relevant knowledge that can enable both the assessment of the relational network of GMOs against criteria of sustainability, societal benefit and ethical justifiability, and the comparison of this network with those of conventional and organic agri/cultures.

c) explore novel ways to capture and visualize these relational networks so that the information is accessible, engaging, relevant and useful for publics and policy-makers.

The project will develop an online identity and an interactive web documentary as part of its methodology and dissemination approach, alongside traditional academic publication fonts. It also specifically aims to push accessibility to information regarding biotechnologies and as such will experiment with the practice of open science, using web-based platforms to transparently communicate and reflect upon research design, method, and choices throughout the project.

The Agri/Cultures Project has a well designed website and blog that can be accessed through the link above. Recent posts address science, knowledge and democracy in the debate on GMOs, the use of interactive documentary technology in academia, and an interactive map of current and proposed fieldwork sites.

The Project is an experiment in applying to social science research the practice of "open science", as developed by Alan Winfield and widely debated within both the academic and the policy-making community, an outline of which can be found on his blog [6]. Open science is a multi level set of practices which range from making sure papers are openly accessible at the most basic level, to a process described as open notebook science at the highest level. At this level the aim is to make the entire process open to scrutiny, and not merely published results.

The Agri/Cultures project aims to adopt this approach in its research on GMOs (a highly controversial topic whose development is oft criticized for non-openness), with the aim of bringing transparency to methodology, choices made, struggles and the research process as a whole. This approach fits nicely within the RI debate and has recently been cited in the Report from the Expert Group on Policy Indicators for Responsible Research and Innovation to the European Commission [7].

All at the Bassetti Foundation wish Fern and her team all the best for their new venture, we will be following closely and urge readers to do the same.


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Links in this document:

  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Redazione FGB
  2. 2] http://genok.com/ansatt/fern-wickson/
  3. 3] http://genok.com/about-genok/
  4. 4] https://cns.asu.edu/viri
  5. 5] http://blogscat.com/agricultures/
  6. 6] http://alanwinfield.blogspot.it/2014/11/open-science-preaching-what-i-practice.html
  7. 7] http://ec.europa.eu/research/swafs/pdf/pub_rri/rri_indicators_final_version.pdf
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An Introduction to the Agri/Cultures Project
Articles by:  Redazione FGB
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