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Home / Elif Kale-Lostuvali, "Universities and the Public Good in the Age of Climate Change"

Elif Kale-Lostuvali, "Universities and the Public Good in the Age of Climate Change"

STS/CSIS Event
When Mar 10, 2015
from 12:10 PM to 01:30 PM
Where SS&H 1246
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Lunch provided. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

Abstract: In 2007, British Petroleum and the University of California-Berkeley entered into the largest-to-date university-industry research partnership in the history of the United States to found the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) for developing biofuels. In the public controversy that erupted around the partnership, contenders agreed that universities should serve the public good, but put forth starkly opposite views on whether and how the EBI would fit with this responsibility. This paper situates the EBI in the growing category of “strategic corporate alliances,” identifies its specificities and analyzes the public controversy. Through focused comparisons with the Cold War era and with the similarly controversial UCB-Novartis agreement, I argue that that the EBI evinces a new turn in both the development of university-industry research relations, and the ongoing debates on universities’ public mission. Briefly put, the Cold War science regime was governed by the relative consensus that universities housed basic science as public good, and the post-1970s growth of university-industry relations was supported with the idea of the university as an “economic engine.” In the EBI case, university scientists and administrators claim that working closely with BP will help build a “greener” future, but their claims attract fiercer opposition from critics with alternative definitions of “green” and the “public good.”

Elif Kale-Lostuvali is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering (Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey), and an M.A. in Sociology (Northwestern University). Her main research interests include knowledge, science and technology; environment and sustainability; social epistemology, politics of reason and social theory. Her dissertation, “Science and the Public Good in the American Research University,” analyzes how the growth of university-industry research relations alters the practice and politics of science in American research universities. An article based on this project is forthcoming in Social Epistemology. Her earlier work was published in Sociological Quarterly and Central Asian Survey.

Note this is our Food for Thought format where everyone is asked to read a paper ahead of time. After you RSVP, you will be emailed with the paper to be discussed.

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