New Tools for Science Policy

Reinventing Participatory Technology Assessment

A Panel Discussion on pTA Innovations with Rising Scholars & Practitioners

About the Seminar

January 22, 2024 12:00pm—1:30pm

Event slide deck can be accessed here.

Event recording embedded below.


In a letter last August, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) urged President Biden to “Issue a clarion call to Federal agencies to make science and technology communication and public engagement a core component of their mission and strategy” and establish a new office for “participatory public engagement.” The Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) network, led by the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes (CSPO), Museum of Science (MOS), and SciStarter, is a national thought and action leader for public participation in technological change. By directly referencing its decade of work with experts, stakeholders, communities, and federal agencies, the letter validated the network’s founding argument about reinventing technology assessment.

Participatory Technology Assessment (pTA) encompasses a series of interconnected processes for engaging experts, stakeholders, and everyday citizens in informed discussions around responsible decision making for emerging technologies. Since 2010, ECAST has convened pTA forums on a variety of socio-scientific challenges, from biodiversity and climate change to automated mobility and human gene editing. It has engaged over 3,000 representatively diverse citizens in over thirty U.S. cities. However, a question arises: how does pTA, a method primarily developed in the 1980s as an argument for democratic decision-making, become and stay relevant in the 21st century? The answer lies with ECAST network’s distributed institutional model, transdisciplinary approach, and commitment to continual innovation in concepts and practice.

How is pTA helping to accelerate innovation while directing technological developments towards the most pressing problems in science and society?

Join thought leaders at CSPO in Washington, DC on January 22, 2024 at 12pm to explore how pTA addresses this new challenge of innovating with society.

In this New Tools for Science Policy discussion, a panel of next-generation scholars and practitioners from ECAST will share how pTA is addressing the demands for procedural, distributional, intergenerational, and recognitional justice while advancing equity for disadvantaged and marginalized communities.

The discussion will begin with an overview of methodological innovations across four recent pTA projects designed to address challenges and opportunities in different stages of research and technology development: nuclear waste storage, carbon dioxide removal, solar geoengineering, and nuclear fusion. Each panelist will highlight the interdisciplinary nature of pTA work and the unique career pathways each presenter followed to arrive at the forefront of pTA reinvention.

Lunch will be provided. A showcase of past and current pTA projects will follow.