The Unifying Aspects of Cultures


Socially Acceptable Sciences

Hans Keune (University of Antwerp, Research Department for Technology, Energy, Environment (STEM/UFSIA), Centre for Health and Environment)
The production of policy relevant knowledge on environment and health in Flanders

In this paper I will introduce the development process for policy relevant knowledge within the framework of the Centre for Health and Environment in Flanders, the Dutch speaking part of Belgium. Researchers from all Flemish universities work together within this Centre directly with government representatives. First I will introduce the Centre for Health and Environment. I will sketch the context of on the one hand policy relevant research in general in Flanders, and on the other hand the context of environment and health problems in modern society. I will describe the way the cooperation between representatives of science and government is formally arranged and I will introduce some specific research domains of the Centre.

Research into complex problems related to environment and health brings forward questions on the relation between policy, science and society. In order to frame the social scientific research on these questions I will focus on policy science literature on this complex issue. Subjects that will be dealt with are the changing role of science for society, the social construction of knowledge and boundary work between the domains of policy and science. Also participation of stakeholders and citizens, the importance of local knowledge and lay knowledge, the analytic-deliberative approach, critical issues about public participation, the role of the social scientist and action research will be dealt with.

Finally I will show how these lessons from theory are reflected in the social scientific research strategy of the Flemisch Centre for Health and Environment. This will be illustrated by description of some of the research activities the social scientists are involved in.