Further thesis planning


in Oxford, Politics, Science, The environment, Writing

The thesis discussion with Dr. Hurrell has further convinced me that I am on a good track. We also sorted out an agreeable pattern for this term’s work this evening: two essays for the core seminar, two papers specifically for him, the research design essay, and a third essay for him to be written during the subsequent break, if necessary. Based on my standard of 3000 word papers, that will mean 21,000 words of writing for this term, in total. (Not counting dozens of blog posts, of course)

While discussing the thesis topic, we edged closer to a real question. The idea, at this point, is to choose two examples of international environmental agreements, then investigate the role that science and scientific communities played in their formulation. Two possible examples at the Stockholm Convention – wherein the coordination of science and policy can be said to have gone fairly well – and the Kyoto Protocol – where the relationship is muddier and the policy outcome less effective. The methodology would centre around looking at the preparatory materials and history of both conventions, as well as interviewing participants. On the theoretical side, I would examine writing on the connections between science and policy in this and other areas, as well as as much philosophy of science as I can push through my limited mental faculties.

The above, expanded and fused with a preliminary survey of the literature, will form the body of the 6000 word research design essay I submit at the end of this month.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan May 6, 2006 at 1:37 pm

Dr. Hurrell said something similar. I think I have much more automatic faith in the validity of science in general than he does.

R.K. May 6, 2006 at 1:27 pm

People in North America seem much more trusting towards scientific pronouncements than those in the UK. That’s even more true of continental Europe. That might be because, as science gets more corporatized, those with greater hostility to corporations become more hostile towards science.

Anon May 7, 2006 at 5:12 pm

Is talking about a monolithic ‘science’ even useful? The first question has to be “whose science?” That of the rich world? That funded by government, by industry? That which meets certain standards of peer review?

Milan May 7, 2006 at 5:47 pm

I don’t think I would ever be so daft as to assert a monolithic ‘science,’ though there is a scientific community in which views command more or less respect, as well as defining procedures and practices which act as a check on total relativism.

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