Parthasarathy in The Conversation: Obama’s socially engaged science and tech policy

December 21, 2016

Shobita Parthasarathy’s December 18 piece for The Conversation is on “Obama administration’s big science and tech innovation: Socially engaged policy.”

Parthasarathy says President Obama’s science and technology legacy should include “much more than his renewed support for science.” The Obama administration also “recognized that policy could be carefully crafted to maximize the social and economic benefits of research and innovation.”

For example, the administration’s work on genetics, intellectual property, the Cancer Moonshot, and other initiatives all accelerate research and put citizens’ needs at the center of policymaking. At a time “when there is great concern that the priorities of scientists and engineers do not align with those of the public,” Parthasarathy says, “these kind of initiatives are particularly important.”

What happens when President-elect Donald Trump begins his administration? “[T]here is a path forward that could allow Trump to remain true to those who voted him into office while building upon President Obama’s approach,” Parthasarathy writes. Trump’s populist support could help him work on science and technology policies that benefit rural and working-class Americans, like lower drug prices and tackling the opioid epidemic.

“Such efforts could ultimately strengthen the legitimacy of the new administration among both the scientific community and the public, while continuing the work towards a socially engaged science and technology policy.”

Parthasarathy's The Conversation piece was picked up by Business Insider and Government Technology.

Shobita Parthasarathy is an associate professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. She does research on governance of transformative science and technology, both in the United States and abroad. Her forthcoming book, Patent Politics: Life Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2017), focuses on the politics of biotechnology patents over the past 40 years.