Today, scientific and technical knowledge plays a key role in framing, informing, and legitimizing public policies at all levels of government (local, regional, national and international). As a result, experts have become omnipresent figures in public policy. As sociologist Helga Nowotny noted in 1982, "in today’s scientized world, it would be hard to imagine getting along without experts". Experts identify issues, create metrics, frame risks, suggest regulations and evaluate implementations, thus defining policy failures and successes. Such technocratic and managerial models are, however, also challenged by societal actors that have been left out of the process and face their socioeconomic consequences. Far from being restricted to the confined walls of the laboratories, controversies spread across societies, from local to transnational spaces. Actors have used various strategies to assert their voices in the debate through mobilisations as well as through taking part to the production of knowledge itself.

The objective of the course is to reflect critically on the prominence of science and technology as objective and neutral resources in the government and governance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Drawing on the concepts and empirical examples from Science & Technology Studies (STS), it aims at providing intellectual tools for gaining a better understanding of the co-construction of modern science and society.

The course is divided between lectures, reading sessions, hands-on workshops, witness seminars, and individual presentations. In addition to active participation in the class, students will research a sociotechnical controversy of their choice, related to the Sustainable Development Goals, propose possible solutions based on principles of public participation and open science, and publish two blog entries about their findings.