Post-Normal Science in Practice - PNS5 MAGIC Session

22 September 2020
Virtual event

PNS5 special MAGIC session | 22 September 2020 | 15:00 – 16:30 CEST | online | registration open |

'Post-Normal Science in Practice: Lessons Learned from the MAGIC project' is MAGIC's final scientific event. It takes the form of a special session at the 2020 Post-Normal Science Symposium (PNS5). The event consists of a collective reflection on post-normal science in practice, based on the experiences gained and lessons learned during MAGIC's research process. MAGIC is the first large-scale attempt to explicitly apply the insights of post-normal science to examine and debate the quality of sustainability-related policies in collaboration with the EU administration and other stakeholders. In MAGIC, a novel approach, quantitative story-telling, was developed and used to analyze the main policy domains related to sustainability, with the aim of identifying the co-existence of different narratives and story-tellings around these policies (some officially endorsed, some untold) and assess their plausibility. The philosophy of MAGIC was grounded in two beliefs:

  1. New analytical tools based on complexity are needed to be better ‘equipped’ for handling uncertainty, impredicative and contingent relations and the co-existence of non-equivalent and non-reducible models.
  2. The creation of new and better analytical tools by itself is insufficient to improve the quality of the process of production and use of science in decision-making.  A more open and transparent scientific process – grounded in complexity theory – has to be embedded in socially-defined processes of decision-making; a process that is transparent in relation to the choices of: concerns and priority over concerns, problems and priorities over problems, perceptions of the chosen problems and their representations, solutions and preferences over solutions, implementations and preferences over implementations.

The results obtained were used to stimulate a reflection on the choice and the (lack of) plausibility of the different narratives with the stakeholders. What criteria should be used to assess the quality of the scientific process in a moment in which we may expect important paradigm shifts?  Do the discussions over sustainability tend to fall in the attractor of “socially constructed ignorance” because of the progressive inability of processing uncomfortable knowledge? 

The special event counts with five speakers:

  • Mario Giampietro (MAGIC coordinator): 'Quantitative Story-telling & Uncomfortable Knowledge—Results from the MAGIC project'
  • Lorenzo Benini (European Environment Agency): 'Handling ‘uncomfortable knowledge’ in a boundary organization: Experiences at the interface between science and policy'
  • Kerry Waylen (James Hutton Institute): 'Questioning the role of academic experts in science-policy interfaces: reflections from engagement on sustainable agriculture'
  • Roger Strand (University of Bergen): 'The quality of policies in-the-making: Circular imaginaries'
  • Ângela Guimarães Pereira (EC-JRC): 'What did we learn from the interaction with EU institutions?'

and will be moderated by nobody less than one of the fathers of post-normal science, Silvio Funtowicz.

Join us at the PNS5 symposium on Tuesday, 22 September, 15:00 – 16:30. Registration open

Video registrations of the presentations are now available: click the playlist!  During the event itself, only the highlights of these registrations will be presented to allow more time for a collective discussion. 




Virtual event

Organized by