Centre for Studies in Science Policy [CSSP]
School of Social Sciences
Jawaharlal Nehru University

The photograph is that of a living-root-bridge in Meghalaya. The bridge is literally grown by guiding the secondary roots of the rubber tree (ficus elastic) to stretch across the innumerable streams that crisscross Meghalaya. One of the finest examples of sustainable innovation in the commons,  based on traditional skills and knowledge.





Future Research Plans

Objectives: The Centre for Studies in Science Policy is a unique interdisciplinary teaching and research program in the Indian university system. The broad objectives of the Centre are to conduct teaching, research and training in the interdisciplinary field of science policy studies. These activities are aimed at the generation of empirical and theoretical knowledge that enhances our understanding of the science-technology-society interaction both from academic as well as policy relevance.

Studies in Science Policy is an interdisciplinary field drawing upon a range of social, natural and engineering science disciplines to explore the interaction between science-technology-society relationships. It concerns the impact of science and technology on society and vice versa.  The primary focus of teaching and research at the Centre is on areas relating to science and technology policy analyses including innovation policies; sociology of science and technology; social history of science and technology, economics of technological change and innovation studies, technology future studies, gender studies in science and technology, science and technology for development, international affairs in science and technology and management of intellectual property rights.

Areas of Research are being undertaken during XII Plan Period (2012-2017)

(i) Globalization and Internationalisation of R&D and Higher Educational Institutions - Impact on Industry

The last decade produced two increasing trends in the pattern of global science and technology systems. The first concerns the internationalisation of R&D and the second the increasingly global nature of innovation. The former reflects Foreign Direct Investment, foreign R&D affiliations of Trans National Corporations (TNCs) and other companies and increased international collaborations through joint ventures and other networking mechanisms. The latter is a recent trend concerning innovation networks of companies stretching beyond in-house or home country locations into foreign locations. This is also a product of business and knowledge process outsourcing, R&D and technical services outsourcing and moving other institutional and organisational operations to foreign locations. There are a number of innovation chain network operations conducted or contracted to foreign locations which create new business opportunities. The corporate model of R&D pursued within home country locations within physical boundaries of the corporate firm is thus fast undergoing a transformation. Various topics which will be covered under this are: a) Foreign R&D centres and its relations with Indian industry including spin-offs and spill-overs; b) New patterns of globalised innovation and emerging networks and national systems of innovation; c) Capitalising knowledge from university – industry relations and partnerships; d) Internationalisation of HEIs including WTO and its impact on science and technology education; e) Globalisation and impact on SMEs and industrial clusters; and f) Emerging technologies and impact on industry.

(ii) Scientometrics and evaluation of S&T potential

Scientometrics is for science policy studies what econometrics is for economics. This sub-specialty is concerned with measurement and evaluation of scientific and technological productivity in terms of S&T input, output and impact indicators and statistics within certain conceptual frameworks and tools drawn from social and natural sciences.  Insights from scientometric based research studies are now widely used to understand the status and `health’  of science and technology; relating S&T to social, economic and human development indices; evaluating and assessing the contribution of R&D laboratories; and foresight studies which utilize indicators developed through scientometrics. It is also envisaged to extend and relate the scientometrics data and techniques with other tools and methods such as GIS, econometrics etc.

(iii) Integration of Human Resource Planning and Technological Innovations

It is widely accepted that person-embodied technology or S&T human resources are crucial to technological and economic development. Planning and foresight of S&T human resources have become all the more significant in the era of globalization and rapid technological change. This requires a special focus in science policy studies as there are wide gaps in knowledge as only the supply of human resources are paid attention to at the neglect of the demand side of the same. In the context of increasing competition and the complexity of the innovation process, greater research efforts require to be made. To meet the new challenges from globally-distributed technology innovation, information age and service development, a holistic approach is needed to integrate key strategies to achieve sustainable development through technology innovation and human resource planning. More future research is expected to build up a strategic and holistic model of human resource development so as to effectively integrate culture, organizational change and high-technology. Research topics which will also be covered in this broad area include: a) Indian diaspora in science and technology including mobility of scientists; b) Demand and supply w.r.t skills in high technologies including ICT and the manufacturing sectors; and c) Brain drain, brian gain and brain circulation of professionals in S&T fields.

(iv) Risks and Ethics in Science and Technology Studies

It is widely acknowledged that ‘risk’ is critical to the evolving social and political dimensions of modern science and technology studies (STS). STS studies is now compelled to engage with the idea of what Ulrich Beck has termed as the modern dilemma of the ‘risk society’. As Beck has insightfully stated, risk society is not simply about developing responses to the innumerable threats and hazards posed by modern science and technology but centrally involves evolving new types of social relations and arrangements to cope with manufactured risk.

As a broad research theme, studies on risk have further enabled the welding of the social sciences  with that of the natural sciences. Thus, studies on risk have become an exciting academic frontier in areas such as bio-safety, genetic engineering, toxic pollution, stem cell research etc. These research concerns have also been fruitfully coupled with questions and debates about equity, access and benefit sharing in  the fields  of modern biology, biotechnology, agriculture sciences, information and communication technologies and medicine.

Significantly as well, studies on risk society are also increasingly being complemented by the rapid development of academic interest in the varied relationships between ‘ethics’ and STS.  Values and norms, it is now widely held and established, influence, shape and constrain scientific and technological practices. Thus, the ability to harness and control scientific and technological systems require an ethical engagement; wherein norms and values define and determine social and technological boundaries.

Cleary there is a pressing academic need for developing and further elaborating upon the many questions and research possibilities thrown up by studies on risk and ethics vis-à-vis STS.  By putting together a course design and initiating research on such subjects, the CSSP could take the lead in the rapidly emerging and  consolidating global interests in themes such as risk, ethics and STS.

(v) Technology, Environmentalism and Sustainable Development

This theme is intended to map and explore a contemporary hybrid intellectual terrain that has been shaped at the intersection of technology, environmentalism and sustainable development. Increasingly, the power of science and technology to legitimise environmental action and in turn for the latter to determine development agendas is widely recognised. Many aspects of technology choices, environmentalism and sustainable development, in other words, have overwhelmingly begun to draw upon and orient each other. Thus there is now a felt need for an altogether fresh range of conceptual, theoretical and analytical perspectives for understanding how these formerly discrete domains of academic enquiry have begun to fuse and achieve traction as a dialogue. This course will be an interdisciplinary attempt and will, in particular, concentrate on surveying and examining an already considerable literature that exists on the overlap between science, sustainable development and environmentalism. Some of the themes and topics will be: a) Discourses on ‘sustainable development’; b) the ‘two natures’ of environment and development; c) green critiques of development; d) the production of environmental activism; e) environmental technologies and its social framings; f) globalising environmentalism; and g)the political ecology of sustainability.

(vi) Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and other Regulatory Mechanisms in the era of ‘de-Regulation’

Recent years have witnessed a phenomenal growth of institutions aimed at shaping and regulating the trajectories of scientific progress and technological change. On one hand, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) institutions have been strengthened to a considerable extent. On the other hand, a plethora of other regulating institutions have came into being with an aim to regulate unintended consequences of new technologies on society and environment. In a nutshell, the recent developments in the institutional framework have two main characteristics:

a. their specific focus on issues of international trade (rather than distribution and capability building issues), and

b. a rigorous attempt to homogenize the institutional framework across the globe.

Some more notable among them are the TRIPS, The Cartagena Protocol of Biosafety Norms, International Conference on Harmonization (of medicinal quality), and international manufacturing norms like ISO. There are certain regulatory mechanisms under GATS for higher educational institutions.

However, this development has raised various controversies, among academicians and policy makers. In particular, the efficacy of homogenization of institutions between countries with diverse social norms, informal institutions, and developmental requirement has come under serious attack. Within the discourse of IPR regime two main issues arise:

a) Whether the old styled institution of IPR, which was originally framed to address the intellectual property rights issues of uni-disciplinary areas like mechanical and chemical technologies, is capable to provide incentive for research and development in new technologies like biotechnology and information technology, which are essentially multidisciplinary in nature.

b) Implications of the recent trend of appropriating university research, through patents and other means, on the progress of scientific knowledge is being critically examined. In particular, which aspects of science and technology should be appropriated through IPR and which aspects should be put in the public domain of knowledge is being discussed and debated widely.

Interestingly, this increasing trend towards regulating science and technological activities are taking place in an era, which sought to de regulate economic activities from the red tapes of bureaucratic hassles and governmental interventions. The differences between these two types of regulatory mechanisms need to be studied extensively in this regard.

CSSP's Unit on Science and Technology Archival Records System (UNISTAR)

In contemporary times, it would perhaps not to be presumptuous to state that science and technology has overwhelmed our society in unprecedented ways. Science, whether as praxis influencing technologies or as cognitive maps to explain realities, is now considered as being central towards framing social, economic, political and historical processes. UNISTAR is being institutionalized so as to provide a systematic source of information and data of all sorts to aid teaching and research in the broad field of STSS. 

Six Basic Components of CSSP Archives 

1. POLICY PAPERS will encompass chronological documentation of the various committees/commission reports and policy resolutions for the entire twentieth century w.r.t. economic, industry, finance, parliament and other important bodies. UNISTAR will organise a section devoted to current information, documentation and data bases from ASEAN, OECD, UN agencies and international regimes in S&T and related bodies in intellectual property rights etc. 

2. INSTITUTIONAL PAPERS and annual reports pertaining to initial years of CSIR, DAE, ISRO, ICMR, ICAR etc. and a few unique science establishments like UDCT Bombay, TIFR Bombay, IACS, Kolkata etc. will be collected. 

3. PRIVATE PAPERS of both deceased and living policy makers and elite scientists such Homi Bhaba, M.N. Saha, S.S. Bhatnagar, C.V. Raman, among others, who have organized and lead the growth of science in India. 

4. ORAL ARCHIVE will tap the self expression of men of science who had a say in policy formulation, building S&T institutions and professionalisation of disciplines by documenting their retrospective views through personally recorded interviews. 

5. CONTEMPORARY ARCHIVES will deal with documentation of alternative policy literature generated by various contemporary science and technology movements, policies, events etc in India. 

6. PHOTO, AUDIO AND VIDEO ARCHIVES to preserve the sense of by-gone and current events. 

Location: UNISTAR is located in CSSP. 

JNU Advisory Committee: Prof. Aditya Mukherjee; Prof Bhagwan Singh Josh; Prof. Deepak Kumar; Prof. Gurpreet Mahajan, Prof V.V. Krishna, Dr Rohan D'Souza, Dean, SSS (Ex. Officio), Chairperson, CSSP (Ex. Officio).