Author: Darrin Durant – University of Melbourne, Australia

Franco Bagnoli – Università degli Studi di Firenze (Italy)
Mitsuru Kudo – Center for the Study of Co* Design – Osaka University (Japan)

How should scientists manage the science-politics boundary when communication science? Amongst the class of knowledge broker conceptions offered as democratic roles for managing that science-policy interface, Roger Pielke’s (2007) ‘honest broker’ model captures the underlying ideal on offer in such models. Ideally we want our scientists to facilitate the opening up, not closing down, of policy options. But in this talk I suggest this underlying ideal of opening up the options is not all that ideal. Put provocatively, we have all been right to argue that something is wrong with deficit models of communication, and with linear models of expertise, and with technocratic models of politics. But have the answers we adopted in response to the problems with those models too often been framed by a model of democratic freedom that is easily abused? Our conference theme is about science, stories and society, and my worry is that the honest broker model (and its cognate knowledge-intermediary models) instantiates a story about scientists that does justice neither to the lived experience of communicating science or to democratic aspirations to hold power relations accountable. In this talk I articulate those worries in two moments. One, I draw upon interviews with Australian climate scientists deeply embedded in climate policy discussions. Their stories complicate easy dismissals of scientists as unrelfexive, and ask us to reflect on what we want from scientists who communicate science. Two, I suggest honest brokering relies on an easily co-opted model of freedom that appears not to address the real danger of arbitrary power in a democracy. This raises the question of how scientists best serve the public when communicating science, by expanding or reducing the scope of decisions?

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Building a theoretical basis for science communication