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dialogues, proposals, stories for global citizenship

Ideas, Experiences and Proposals On Sciences and Democracy

Created by Olivier Petitjean

01 / 2009

This dossier is a selection of DPH articles on Sciences & Democracy. It has been compiled for circulation during the Sciences & Democracy World Forum, to be held in Belém on January 26th and 27th, 2009, just before the World Social Forum.

This dossier is only a first version, solely based on articles already existing in the DPH database, written since the 90s. These articles are of different types: book or article reviews, case-studies, presentation of initiatives or of organisations, etc. The structure of the dossier follows as much as possible the thematic grid that has been decided by the Forum’s organisation committee. It includes articles in three of the four working languages of the DPH network: English, French, and Spanish, as well as short abstracts in both French and English. A more complete version is to be finalised after the Forum, on the basis of the ideas, experiences and proposals highlighted at this occasion.

NB. The objective of DPH is not to produce a unified doctrine. Therefore, each of these articles only reflects the views of its author.

1st Part - Scientific or Social Progress? How do the Sciences Contribute to Development?

Questions from the Sciences & Democracy World Forum Programme:

* How does science relate to the limits to growth, how to deal with negative externalities (global change, climate crisis, energy needs, control society, increase in inequalities, poverty, social costs,…)?

* How can science contribute to the construction of peace?

* How can science contribute to the implementation of fundamental rights?

* How to associate the communities, rural and/or urban, in particular poorest, with the choice, the conception and with the realization of the research which relate to them?

Measuring Well-Being: Redefining Progress, Rajni Bakshi, CED, 2008

A critique of the models and criteria of wealth, welfare or progress promoted by the dominant economic “science” is indispensable.

Sciences et démocratie, le couple impossible ?, Sciences and Democracy, an Impossible Alliance?, Robert Douillet, GEYSER, 2001

The central role assigned to science and technology in development since the Second World War has net its limits. It is therefore necessary to invent a new social contract between scientifics and society, based on a democratisation of scientific and technological decisions.

Un échec de la techno-science dans les pays en voie de développement ?, Techno-Science in Developing Countries: A Failure?, Jacques Poulet Mathis, FPH, 1998

Imported knowledge and techniques have in most cases failed to produce a fast-track to development for Third World countries.

Pour une mobilisation mondiale des connaissances au service du Sud, For a Global Mobilisation of Knowledge in Favour of the South, Jacques Poulet Mathis, FPH, 1998

High-level scientists from the global South could promote the reunion of a sufficient number of experts, whose task would be to translate all the available knowledge to make it useful for action in different global contexts.

Fuite des cerveaux : comment mobiliser les compétences expatriées ?, Brain Drain: Is there still a Local Use for Experts from the South who have gone to the North?, Marie-Lise Sabrie, IRD, 1996 - COLOMBIA

Colombia has initiated in the 90s a programme aimed at reducing the negative impacts of the “brain drain” by creating a network of expatriated researchers and putting their expertise into local use.

Quelques aspects de la philosophie de la technologie anglo-saxonne contemporaine, On Some Aspects of Contemporary Anglo-Saxon Philosophy of Technology, Fernand Doridot, ICAM-CETS, 2007

Contemporary thinkers emphasise the deeply political character of technology, and the influence of technological systems on the very democratic nature of the societies which adopt them.

D’une confiance aveugle dans les technologies à la nécessité d’une science en conscience, Blind Trust in Technologies Must Give Way to a Self-Aware Science, Marie-Christine Zelèm, 2005

Although crises, scandals and controversies have multiplied in recent years, a lot of people still expect that technology will eventually provide all the answers and all the solutions to social and environmental problems.

Les utopies généticiennes, Genetic Utopias, Jacques Testart, 2005

The biotech alliance between scientific and economic lobbies makes ever larger promises to attract subventions and the public’s sympathy… although the actual results are few.

Nucléaire de « 4ème génération » : l’utopie comme stratégie de survie, « 4th Generation » Atomic Plants: Utopia as Survival Strategy, Yves Marignac, WISE-Paris, 2005

By promoting so-called 4th generation nuclear reactors as a virtually clean, secure and inexhaustible source of energy, the nuclear lobby works to postpone the necessary revolution in our energetic systems.

La « civilisation Hydrogène » mythe ou réalité ?, “Hydrogen Civilisation”: Myth or Reality?, Benjamin Dessus, Global Chance, 2005

Hydrogen- or fuel cell-based technologies could have a beneficial impact on our energetic systems. But they are far from being able to fulfil all the promises made by their promoters.

Des machines pour les autres, Machines for Others, Robert Douillet, GEYSER, 1998

Taking stock of 20 years of appropriate technologies: experiences, misundertsandings, encouters.

Sécurité humaine et développement durable par des cadres de vie soutenables, Sustainable Livelihoods : the Central Issue of Human Security and Sustainable Development, Georges Thill, Jean-Paul Léonis, Prélude International, 2002 - INDIA

For Development Alternative, an Indian NGO, implementing technologies based on local creativity and needs is the key to sustainable development.

Of Breeders and Poor Farmers: The Inadequacy of High Yielding Varieties of Pearl Millet in an Arid Environment, Carine Pionetti, 1997 - INDIA

On the limitations of an approach to biodiversity and to research and innovation in plant breeding which doesn’t take into account the farmers’ views.

Comment faire coopérer étroitement entre eux les institutions de recherche, les organismes de vulgarisation et les organisations paysannes ?, How can Research Institutions, Popularisation Organisations and Farmers’ Unions Cooperate?, Mamadou Lamine Sonkho, Benoît Lecomte, 2002 - SENEGAL

Of the efforts and institutional innovations undertaken by the Senegalese National Committee for Rural Concertation between 1995 and 1998.

Fisheries Science: Is there a Place for Fishermen?, John Kurien, ICSF, 1997 - CANADA

The difficulty of fisheries ‘scientists’ to listen to the views and the needs of artisanal fishermen and women is an illustration of the limitations of their science.

L’expérience du CREDETIP avec les pêcheurs du Sénégal, Working with Fishermen in Senegal, Aliou Sall, CREDETIP, 1999 - SENEGAL

The Research Centre for Intermediary Technologies Development in Fishery (CREDETIP) valorises the ethno-scientific knowledge of Senegalese fishermen and encourages them to conduct their own research.

L’Université de l’État du Rio Grande do Sul (UERGS), The State University of Rio Grande do Sul (UERGS), Olivier Petitjean, 2003 - BRÉSIL

The UERGS is a democratic University created by the same local authorities and along the same lines as the participative budget of Porto Alegre. It aims to create closer links between teaching, research and local needs and priorities, to achieve a more democratic and sustainable development.

Pour une contribution sociale efficace des universités au développement de régions fragiles ou fragilisées, Universities can contribute efficiently to the Development of Fragile Regions, Georges Thill, Jean-Paul Léonis, Prélude International, 2001 - GREECE

An experience which took place in Naxos, a Greek island, ilustrates the results which can be achieved through a closer cooperation between universities and local communities.

Des communautés rurales à l’université, From Rural Communities to University, Nadia Chalabi, Altersyal, 1996 - ECUADOR

In the Andean region of Ecuador, academic structures have been created to train social leaders in agricultural and food developement.

Les boutiques de sciences, Science Shops, Claudia Neubauer, Fondation Sciences Citoyennes, 2003 - NETHERLANDS

The Science Shops, a model invented in the Netherlands which has equivalents in several countries all around the globe, act as mediators beween scientists and citizens in order to initiate research projects that correspond to the needs and aspirations of civil society.

L’Öko-Institut en Allemagne, The Öko-Institut in Germany, Claudia Neubauer, Fondation Sciences Citoyennes, 2003 - GERMANY

The Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology) is non-profit organisation which aims to promote sustainable development. Its a Centre for applied research in the environmental field working towards the common good independantly from the government and from economic and industrial interests.

2nd Part - Science and Society: Independance, Responsability, Democratic Control

Questions from the Sciences & Democracy World Forum Programme:

* How to favour the scientists to exercise their civic role and responsibilities, not only as an expert in the public debate? Specific role of researchers and scientists in society: necessity and limits to democratic decisions in science, freedom of research and responsibility.

* How to allow a dialogue between the society and the researchers on the consequences of research?

Science, éthique et industrie : l’affaire du RU486, Science, Ethics and Industry: the Case of the RU486, Elisabeth Bourguinat, Ecole de Paris de management, 1998 - FRANCE, UNITED STATES

The case of the RU486 illustrates the pressures which scientific research and industrial developments can be victim of when their results go against the dominant values.

L’information indépendante sur la radioactivité, Independant Information on Radioactivity, Ina Ranson, Cedidelp, 1998 - FRANCE

The French Independant Commission for Research and Information on Radioactivity (CRII-RAD) is an independant lab which aims to serve communities and local authorities.

Représentations scientifiques et représentation politique : une confusion à approfondir ?, Scientific and Political Representations: Is Confusion Beneficial?, Elisabeth Bourguinat, Ecole de Paris de management, 1999

Bruno Latour and Michel Callon, sociologists of science, suggest we should change completely our views on political and scientific discourses. The traditional opposition between scientific “truth” and political “lies” seems to them oversimplistic.

Mondialisation et éthique des ingénieurs et chercheurs, Globalisation and the Ethics of Engineers and Researchers, Jacques Poulet Mathis, FPH, 1998

Towards an international framework for promoting and protecting professional responsibility.

Ambitions et limites du comité d’éthique pour les sciences du CNRS, Ambitions and Limitations of the Scientific Ethics Committee of the CNRS in France, Jacques Poulet Mathis, FPH, 1998 - FRANCE

The scope of the Ethics Committee of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS, France) hardly goes beyond issues of scientific publication deontology – which are important but fall short compared to the wider ethical and social implications of scientific research.

L’Office danois de technologie (Teknologirådet), un avant-gardiste des méthodes participatives, The Danish Board of Technology Pioneers Participatory Technology Assessment, Claudia Neubauer, Fondation Sciences Citoyennes, 2003 - DENMARK

The Danish Board of Technology is where Consensus Conferences and Scenario Workshops were invented. In itself, the Board is an example of democratic organisation and creativity aimed at forstering democratic debate on sciences and technology

Les conférences de consensus, Consensus Conferences, Olivier Petitjean, 2008 - DENMARK

Consensus Conferences are participatory processes which aim at allowing citizens to express their views on scientific and technological issues. They have been initiated in Denmark in the 80s and have spread all over the planet in the 90s when scandals and controversies about science and technology started to mutiply. In spite of ambiguities, this democratic process has demonstrated its ability to participate in promoting a democratic governance of science and technology.

L’Education à l’Environnement à travers l’enseignement de la matière ‘Science-Technologie-Société’ : le rapport Harari, Environmental Education through a ‘Science-Technology-Society’ Programme: the Harari Report, Abraham Blum, 2001 - ISRAEL

The ‘Science-Technology-Society’ programme proposed in Israelian highschools allows student to become acquainted with environmental issues and trains them to become citizens who are able to take part in democratic decision-process regarding science and technology.

Actividades Científicas juveniles, Scientific Programmes for Young People, Clara Piedad Jiménez Hiniestrosa, Almedio / CINEP, 2005 - COLOMBIA

A school programme which aims to promote Colombian children and youth’ interest in science and technology.

3rd Part - Scientific, Traditional and Other Forms of Knowledge: Universalitity and Plurality

Question from the Sciences & Democracy World Forum Programme:

* How do different conceptions of science have an impact on the way in which scientific knowledge is produced? (for example, the following themes should be discussed : feminist and alternative approaches especially regarding economy and health, traditional knowledge marginalised in the mainstream scientific world.)

Universalité ou complémentarité des rationalités ?, One Universal Rationality, or Several?, Jacques Poulet Mathis, FPH, 1998

Taking into account local contexts, traditions and knowledge can improve scientific research in terms of its problems, methods and results – and, most of all, it can redirect its efforts towards needs and priorities usually ignored by mainstream science.

L’Inde et les alternatives à la science occidentale, India and the Alternatives to Western Science, Jacques Poulet Mathis, FPH, 1998 - INDIA

The critics addressed to Western science in India have provoked a dialogue with local traditions and knowledge, which is likely to grow in importance in the future.

Les maux épidémiques dans l’empire chinois, Epidemics in the Chinese Empire, Michel Sauquet, FPH, 1998 - CHINA

History shows that beyond its most famous aspects (acupuncture, yin-yang), Chinese medicine has proved able to deal earlier and more efficiently with health issues such as epidemics than Western medicine, because it never conceived man separately from the world he lives in.

Savoirs du Sud, {Knowledge from the South, Pierre-Yves

Guihéneuf, GEYSER, 2002}

Scientific knowledge and social practices: what we owe Southern countries

La science des pays du Sud permet de mieux valoriser les ressources : exemples dans les trois continents, Science from the South is better at valorising the South’s Resources: Illustrations from 3 Continents, Pierre-Yves Guihéneuf, GEYSER, 1996

Scientifics from the global South have proven their ability to develop innovating solutions and theories on the basis of local traditional knowledge or substances. Nevertheless, their research has often been hindered by the inequal and unfair character of the international scientific system, which places greater emphasis on the interests of pharmaceutical or agricultural multinational corporations.

Hegemony and Biodiversity: The Marginalisation of Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Carine Pionetti, 1997 - INDIA

The social and economic modernisation of India undertaken soon after Independance was largely based on Western models and concepts, and has therefore ignored or destroyed relevant traditional knowledge systems, especially regarding farming practices.

Rescate de sabiduría ancestral y gestión de recursos naturales en el Altiplano boliviano, Restauration of Ancestral Knowledge and Management of Natural Resources in the Bolivian Altiplano, Liliana Duran Aguilar, IEE, 2002 - BOLIVIE

The Peasant Academic Unit of the Bolivian Catholic University promotes dialogue beween different forms of knowledge.

Conflits entre les savoirs scientifiques et techniques et les savoirs paysans dans les Andes, Conflicts between Scientific-technical and Peasants’ Knowledge in the Andes Region, Rabah Lahmar, 1997 - PERU

How programmes for soils management and conservation have failed in Peru because they were based on methods and principles imported from the United States and did not even try to understand or indclude local traditional knowledge.

Ethnopharmacologie au Guatemala, Ethno-pharmacology in Guatemala, Agnès de Souza, Homoeopathia Internationalis, 1995 - GUATEMALA

The experience of an ethno-pharmacologist in post-civil war Guatemala shows that combining traditional and modern medicine not only produces better knowledge, but is also necessary to ensure the local populations’ access to health services.

Les imaginaires en conflits dans la gestion de la santé. Le cas de la zone de santé rurale de Yasa-Bonga, Zaïre, Conflicting Views on Health: the Case of the Rural Health Zone of Yasa-Bonga, Zaire, Georges Thill, Jean-Paul Leonis, Prélude international, 1995 - CONGO-KINSASHA

An illustration of the interactions between modern and traditional medicine, and of the diverse ways in which the former tries to take control of the latter.

Recherche et production de médicaments à base de plantes médicinales et de la médecine traditionnelle rwandaise, Research and Production of Drugs based on Medicinal Plants and on Traditional Medicine in Rwanda, Georges Thill, Jean-Paul Leonis, Prélude international, 1995 - RWANDA

An example of a very thorough valorisation of traditional medical knowledge and their integration into a national health policy framework.

L’homéopathie n’est pas une médecine douce, Homeopathy is not a « softer » medicine, Agnès de Souza, Homoeopathia Internationalis, 1995

An attempt to explain homeopathy, its principles and its specificity, often confused within the general and too vague category of “alternative medicines”.

Politique et Technologie s’écrivent au féminin, Politics and Technology Gendered, Flavia Fascendini, 2008

Information society represents a historical occasion to gain gender equality, but paradoxically it could also result in deepened discriminations.

4th Part - Intellectual Property and its Alternatives: the movements of the « commons »

Questions from the Sciences & Democracy World Forum Programme:

* How world trade market, multilateral agreements and IPR are organising the hold up on knowledge at the global level and in all sectors of life?

* How people and social organisations are developing instruments for creating and sustaining the knowledge “commons”? How knowledge “producers” can contribute to building commons?

* How alternative non IP based systems of reproduction of knowledge are using the “commons” approach: free and open source approaches in different sectors: health, software, agriculture, culture,…

* How do « Commons supporters » emerge as a political force?

Droits de propriété intellectuelle, marchés financiers et innovation. Une configuration soutenable ?, Intellectual Property Rights, Financial Markets and Innovation: Is the Current System Sustainable?, Aurore Lalucq, FPH, 2006 - UNITED STATES

The economic domination of the United States since the 90s was based on a deep restructuration of the intellectual property rights system and its integration into deregulated financial markets, as a result of which research and innovation are not conceived and managed as public goods any more.

Patentes y propriedad intelectual… un monopolio que amenaza al patrimonio de los pueblos de montaña, Patents and Intellectual Property: a Monopoly which Threatens the Mountains Peoples’ Heritage, Carla Estrada Jopia, Almedio/APMM, 2006 - PERU

The current patents system only serves big corporations and countries which can afford investing in research and production infrastructures.

L’Afrique du Sud gagne une bataille contre les trusts pharmaceutiques, South Africa wins Battle against Big Pharma, Françoise Feugas, CERPAC, 2001 - SOUTH AFRICA

Pharmaceutical multinational corporations have given up their attempt to sue the South African governement over its autorisation of generical drugs against AIDS.

La biopiraterie, un concept nouveau, Biopiracy, a New Concept, Catherine Aubertin, 4D, 2008

Accusations of biopiracy have become more and more frequent on the global scence, whether from governments of the global South or from activists. It is a sign that the UN Convention on biological diversity has failed to secure the expected results in terms of protecting biodiversity and the rights of local populations.

Managing the Benefits Derived from the Use of Biodiversity. An Analysis of Community Rights by Ashish Kothari, Carine Pionetti, 1997 - INDIA

What would be the best way to protect the rights of the local communities of the South against the attempts of economic and scientific actors from the North to appropriate and privatise biodiversity?

La « culture du vol » et le problème de la propriété intellectuelle en Russie, The “Culture of Theft” and the Issue of Intellectual Property in Russia, Iaroslav Starsev, France-Oural, 2002 - RUSSIA

How do poor people manage to remain intelligent, well informed and well equiped in Russia, in spite of the privatisation campaigns of the 90s?

Software libre: una opción de comunicación sin privatización, ni competencia, Free Software: a Communication Alternative without Privatisation and withour Barriers, CINEP, 2003 - COLOMBIA

Given its nature and potentialities, the free software movement is a natural and necessary component of the movement for a peoples’ globalisation, against corporate domination.

Nodo Tau : l’inclusion digitale pour l’inclusion sociale, Nodo Tau: Digital Inclusiveness for Social Inclusiveness, Cindy Drogue, Nodo Tau, 2008 - ARGENTINA

Nodo Tau is an organisation whose aim is to facilitate access to the new information technologies or grassroots groupes in Argentina.

Community Genebank in Maharashtra. The Rice Project of the Academy of Development Science, Carine Pionetti, 1997 - INDIA

Community genebanks such as the one created for rice varieties in the 90s by the Maharashtra Academy of Development Science represent a promising alternative to conventional genebanks, because they allow for greater control for local populations and better adaptation to their needs.

Défendre le droit à la sélection, à la reproduction et à l’échange des semences paysannes : le Réseau Semences Paysannes, Defending the Right to Select, Reproduce and Exchange Peasants’ Seeds, Juristes Solidarité, 2005 - FRANCE

The French Réseau Semences Paysannes (Peasants’ Seeds Network) promotes the development and the exchange of peasants’ know-how, the trial and cultivation of diversified peasants’ seeds, and the technical, scientific and juridical recognition of peasants’ practices for reproducing seeds and varieties.

Un réseau national de lutte anti-OGM contraint le gouvernement japonais à légiférer, A National Network against GMOs forces the Japanese Government to Change the Law, Vivien Deroche, 2001 - JAPAN

The “No GM” movement in Japan organises to preserve traditional soy varieties.

L’éducation, un bien public, Education: a Public Good, Gustavo Marin, FPH, 1999 - ARGENTINE

The Argentinian Education Workers’ Confederation (CTERA) is engaged since 1973 in a struggle to preserve education as a public good in Argentina.

Le succès des réseaux d’échanges réciproques de savoirs créés par Claire Héber-Suffrin, The Success of the Reciprocal Exchange of Knowledge Networks initiated by Claire Héber-Suffrin, Elisabeth Bourguinat, Ecole de Paris de management, 1998 - FRANCE

The Knowledge Exchange Networks, which have been created in France in the 80s and 90s, promote a system of social relations and an educational approach based on parity (all equally providers and consumers of knowledge) and reciprocity (all equally teachers and pupils), and the exchange of diverse forms of knowledge (from scientific knowledge to the most basic and trivial) within open networks (I learn from some and teach to others).

Indymedia : réseau mondial de médias alternatifs, Indymedia: Global Alternative Media Network, Cindy Drogue, Nodo Tau, 2008 - ARGENTINA

Breaking the rules imposed by the global information monopolies, the global Indymedia network develops every day its open project for news publishing. An encounter with the team of Indymedia Rosario in Argentina.

Alianzas Editoriales. ¡A recuperar el libro y defender la diversidad cultural latinoamericana!, Publishers’ Alliances in Latin America, Carla Estrada Jopia, Almedio/CINEP, 2005 - CHILE

An alliance between publishers of various Latin American countries reinforces them in the struggle to defend the independent publishing industry against the threats brought forward by free-trade agreements.

57 fiches

1-10 / 11-20 / 21-30 / 31-40 / 41-50 / 51-57

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