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In Search of Evidence-Based Science Policy: From the Endless Frontier to SciSIP is the latest publication from Elliott School Research Professor, and former Director of Science & Policy Programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Al Teich. In advance of the book’s launch, Dr. Teich reflected on both the book’s evolution and the evolution of US science policy research:
"When President George W. Bush's science advisor, Jack Marburger, gave the keynote address at the AAAS Forum on Science & Technology Policy in 2005, he criticized the science policy research community for failing to provide information that policymakers could use. I was troubled by his critique of my field but encouraged when the National Science Foundation (NSF) established a new research program to support work that could provide the basis for a more ‘scientific’ (i.e., evidence-based) science policy. When I was asked to give a talk to AAAS a few years later, I chose the evolution of science policy research as my topic and that lit the spark that led me to write this book.
The federal government, including NSF, has been engaged in science policy at least since 1950. It has created a series of research programs, each of which in turn has disappeared. I was surprised by the absence of connections between these programs. When the most recent one—the Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP)—was established in 2007 virtually no one involved in it seemed to be aware of the fact that a similar program existed from the 1970s to 1994.
With support from the SciSIP program, science and innovation policy research have been making significant strides in recent years. The advent of ‘big data’ and new computational capabilities and techniques for merging datasets are taking their places in science and innovation policy research. Yet to be seen is how useful these advances will be for policymakers, whether improved communication between researchers and policymakers and increased involvement of policymakers in shaping research can yield results that are both scientifically valid and relevant to policymakers."
Research Professor of Science, Technology, and International Affairs
Reviewers describe Elliott School Professor Ilana Feldman’s new book, Life Lived in Relief: Humanitarian Predicaments and Palestinian Refugee Politics, as a “formidable” and “definitive” account of the Palestinian refugees’ experience of protracted displacement. To mark the publication’s launch, Professor Feldman spoke about her author experience:
“The roots of this project lie in my earlier research in the Gaza Strip. While conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Gaza in the late 1990s, I was struck by the significance of the distinctions between ‘refugees’ and ‘natives’ in social relations and political discourse. The entire population is Palestinian, so these distinctions did not define membership in the national community, but they matter for how people were members of that community. I wanted to better understand how these categories emerged, and I began by researching the aftermath of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948, the beginning of humanitarian assistance to the displaced, and the population categories that were required to manage this assistance. This initial research revealed multidimensional and often contradictory effects of humanitarian decisions and procedures, and it led me to investigate the Palestinian relief experience with humanitarianism over seven decades and across five fields of assistance (Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria).
As I conducted this research, I was struck by just how vibrant and complex humanitarian spaces are. The scholarly literature on humanitarianism, aid providers’ own definitions of their missions, and recipients’ evaluations of this assistance all often emphasize the limits of humanitarianism—the limits of its mandate, the limits of its capacity to engage recipients as full human beings, and the limits of its ability to meet people’s multidimensional needs. Even as these limits are real, they only partially define the humanitarian experience. I was struck by the range of things that people are able to do with humanitarian tools. They press political claims, they work to alter their present and future conditions, they build complex relationships in and through categories that are meant only to manage aid delivery.
In a global political environment in which concern for refugees and migrants seems in short supply, the long Palestinian experience with displacement that I explore in Life Lived in Relief has much to teach us. It shows that humanitarian compassion—responses that address people primarily as suffering subjects and that focus on alleviating that suffering—is not an adequate alternative to a politics of hate and xenophobia. As Palestinians have insisted for seventy years, displaced persons also have political claims on us. Refugees will pursue these claims whether we recognize them or not, but their actions do not relieve us of our obligations.”
Professor of Anthropology, History, and International Affairs
Elliott School Book Launch Series
A packed house greeted Elliott School Professor of Practice Robert G. Sutter when he commemorated his latest book, Foreign Relations of the PRC, with an event entitled: Xi Jinping's Foreign Policy Vision—Powerful Image versus Restricted Reality.
Award-Winning Faculty Publications