Supporting Federal Decision Making through Participatory Technology Assessment

Authors: Nicholas Weller, Michelle Sullivan Govani, and Mahmud Farooque


The incoming administration faces complex issues at the intersections of science, technology, and society. As such, the next administration should establish a special unit within the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI)—an existing federally funded research and development center (FFRDC)—to provide capacity for Participatory Technology Assessment (pTA) to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and across executive branch agencies.

A pTA unit within STPI would provide pTA as a service for the executive branch regarding emerging scientific and technological issues and questions. By integrating public voices alongside expert assessments, the next administration can ensure that federal science and technology decisions provide the greatest benefit to society.

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About the Authors

Nicholas Weller is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Arizona State University. He promotes engagement among scientists, public audiences, policy makers, and cultural organizations in service of creating a just, free, and sustainable future. He studies the use of deliberative public forums to shape science and policy on uncertain, contested, and technical topics. Currently, he works with ASU’s Center for Innovation in Informal STEM Learning to help professionals at museums and other cultural organizations develop sustainability-related programs. He also works with ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes to better link science with public values.

Michelle Sullivan Govani is Director, Strategy and Partnerships with ASU’s Office of Applied Innovation. She develops and implements best practices for coordinating activities, partnerships, and projects to advance Applied Innovation’s strategic goals. In addition, she advances her own portfolio of projects in the office, fostering mutually beneficial partnerships and applying her expertise at the intersection of science, politics, and policy, to the study and innovation of higher education institutions, as well as to the advancement of educational and economic opportunity in the communities ASU serves.

Mahmud Farooque is the Associate Director of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes (CSPO) and a Clinical Associate Professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society (SFIS) at Arizona State University. Mahmud’s work at the ASU Washington Center focuses on making science more democratic and useful. The useful component engages boundary practitioners at the science and policy interface for reconciling the supply of and demand for scientific information (RSD). The democratic component leverages a distributed institutional network of academics, educators and analysts for participatory technology assessment (pTA).