This course will examine the policy processes that 1) promote scientific research and innovation and 2) facilitate the movement of innovations out of the laboratory into private industry and the public. We will also discuss the social impacts, ethical considerations, and effects of these policies on the production of scientific knowledge.
Should the federal government promote renewable energy research? How about human stem cell research?
Innovation can change the way the world works and the way people live their lives. It is one of the key drivers of the global economy and it is the source of almost every improvement in our quality of life. However, the market alone does not readily promote or sustain the processes of innovation. Therefore, reaping the benefits of innovation requires extensive public policy involvement. The federal government, for example, spends nearly 5% of its annual operating budget on research and development efforts. Innovation can also cause significant disruptions to society. Public policy is again often needed to help mitigate the negative side effects of technological change.
This course will explore processes of innovation and the public policies used to promote and govern science, R&D, and innovation. It will examine the roles of and the interrelationships between the government, academia, industries, and the public. It will also contextualize the processes of innovation and explore some of the newest theories for developing socially embedded policies for innovation.
Topics covered will include:
The purpose and goals of our investments in innovation,
The theories, structures, and strategies used to promote and sustain American innovation,
The social context of innovation and innovation policy,
The relationship between science and technology,
The history and political economy of innovation,
The federal science budget and research priorities,
The role of intellectual property,
The ethics of innovating, and
Public participation in the processes of innovation
These topics and themes will be explored using a few case studies, such as the National Nanotechnology Initiative and the regulations surrounding human stem cell research. We will also hear directly from some innovators and a few others engaged in the innovation pipeline.
This course is targeted to a broad audience. No prior scientific background or policy experience is necessary.
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