International Visitation Committee Evaluates STePS Research 2008-2013: “An excellent group of impressive researchers”

A visitation committee, composed of international leaders in the field, have evaluated the research carried out by the Department of Science, Technology and Policy Studies (STePS), University of Twente, Netherlands, as excellent.

STePS researches the dynamics and governance of science, technology and innovation in society. Its evaluated interdisciplinary research programme (2008-13) covers the entire life cycle of techno-sciences - such as nano-technology, ICT and medical technology - from their historical roots to future visions and policy formation. The goal of STePS' research fits perfectly with the UT's ambitions: to guide and give form to new technologies and innovation through reflection and interaction with various groups in society (users, industry, government). STePS is part of the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences (BMS). It is actively involved in a number of European and international research projects and networks, is home to a large number of international PhD students and works closely with the UT institutes MESA+ and CTIT, as well as with ITC.

The visitation committee had the highest praise for the quality and productivity of STePS research 2008-2013, lauding both the quality of research and large number of publications as 'universally excellent'. The committee further applauded the internal coherence of the research programme, which is composed of three thematic focal points: ‘governance of science, technology and innovation’ (prof. Kuhlmann and prof. Hoppe), ‘technology dynamics and user-focused technology assessment’ (prof. Oudshoorn), and ‘long term development of science and technology’ (prof. Roberts). This coherence results from the successful construction of an integrated perspective on the governance of socio-technical developments that is rooted in a thorough analysis of technology dynamics. According to the evaluation committee, the department was quite right to select boundary work (between the formation of political judgment and scientific expertise) as its central theme.

The committee was populated by representatives of STePS' most important international counterparts: Prof. Susan Cozzens (Public Policy), Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta (chair); Prof. Trevor Pinch, (Science and Technology Studies & Sociology), Cornell University, Ithaca; Prof. Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, (Epistemology, History & Philosophy of Science and Technology), Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne; Prof. Sabine Maasen (Sociology of Science), TU München; Prof. Frans Brom (Technology Assessment), Rathenau Institute, The Hague and Utrecht University.