A Transdisciplinary Experiment: Deliberating Just Research on Vanishing Bees
(University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Paper short abstract:
We implemented a deliberative experiment to develop more just research on the problem of dying honey bees. Our results highlight the symbolic and organizational factors that affect stakeholder collaboration and how trust is formed in the face of epistemic, institutional, and cultural challenges.
Paper long abstract:
We present the results of a science & technology studies intervention to develop more just research on the problem of widespread honey bee deaths. As the primary pollinators of crop and plant communities in North America, the well-being of honey bees is closely intertwined with the livelihoods of beekeepers and pollinator-reliant growers, and the health of consumers and the price they pay for food. Our prior work showed that while scientists identify the problem of widespread bee deaths as being "multifactorial", epistemologically dominant research norms and practices limit the scope of entomological analyses to the direct effects of individual factors. As a result, serious consideration of the cumulative and interactive effects of multiple factors--a dynamic that non-scientist beekeepers' approaches point to-- is precluded, and beekeepers' knowledge claims and positions are marginalized in debates. In this study, we brought together a set of beekeepers, growers, university scientists and policymakers to deliberate about the most effective ways to understand the challenges facing honey bees. The project was an experiment in a double sense: Could we facilitate productive collaboration between beekeepers, growers, scientists, and regulators? Can deliberation among these stakeholders lead to a mode of undertaking scientific research that can capture the social and ecological complexity of bee die-offs, provide data of use to stakeholders and policymakers, and serve as a model for further scientific research? Our results highlight the symbolic and organizational factors that affect stakeholder collaboration and how trust is developed in the face of epistemic, institutional, and cultural challenges.
Science and Technology for Social Justice