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Policy Catalyst

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About Our Blog

The Policy Catalyst Web Log

Does science affect your life? Can technology improve what we do? We think so, and we want to improve the application of science and technology in solving public problems. To do that, not only do we need the top researchers toiling away at the problems of our time, we need government and the public to understand the complexity of our current Science and Technology frontiers, so that we can all engage in a pro-active democratic system.

Our founder Kenneth Keller, I think, has the best explanation:

“It is certainly true that in our society – and I mean our global society – is affected by science and technology more today then ever before. Some would go further and argue that S&T define the age in which we live. I think that’s more than an exaggeration; it misses an important point. And that point is that neither science nor technology in and of themselves determines the course of society; in the vernacular of the field, we are not defined by “technology push.? In fact, there is a complex interaction between S&T and society – driven by the historical moment, the social needs, the political power structure, the state of the economy, and even the culture of the people – and that interaction determines how new technology is applied and what its effect is on our lives…

It is, on one hand, to understand how that interactive process works; how we can anticipate and avoid the unintended consequences of new technologies and, at the same time, how we can promote the social and institutional changes that will allow us to realize the potential benefits of new knowledge. On the other hand, we want to understand what kinds of policies will help us to develop that new knowledge; that is, how we can use the instruments of policy and power of the purse to encourage and support the creative acts of discovery and invention by which we build the knowledge base that can subsequently be exploited for the benefit of society."

We hope that you will contribute to our mission by helping to shape the public discussion about Science and Technology. If you have any ideas for posts you can email cstpp@umn.edu.


The CSTPP Team

Originally created by: Sophia Ginis, Outreach Manager and Graham Lampa, MPP Student

Header image by yoyental on flickr.

Emphasizing the 'Public' in Public Affairs

Policy Catalyst was created by Sophia Ginis, Outreach Manager for the Center for Science, Technology, and Public Policy in collaboration with the Humphrey Institute's "Emphasizing the Public in 'Public' Affairs" initiative, which seeks to infuse the public affairs school's academic research and practice with new media technology. The initiative was begun by Humphrey student Graham Lampa and is funded by the University of Minnesota's Office of Service and Continuous Improvement under the unit's Service, Project, and Improvement Fund.

Blog authors

Deb Swackhamer


Deborah Swackhamer is trained as an environmental chemist with a focus on freshwater systems. She joined the U of M faculty in 1986, and is professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health and co-director of the U of M Water Resources Center in addition to her appointment at the Humphrey School.

Elizabeth Wilson


Elizabeth Wilson is an Assistant Professor, her areas of expertise include energy and environmental policy; regulatory and legal analysis of emerging technologies; climate change; geologic carbon sequestration; public perception of emerging technologies.

Jennifer Kuzma

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Jennifer Kuzma is the area chair for science, technology and environmental policy. Her areas of expertise are biotechnology policy; regulatory policy; risk analysis; biochemistry/molecular biology; renewable energy programs; and nanotechnology policy.

Peter Lindstrom

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Peter Lindstrom joined the center in October, as the new assistant director. Before joining the center, Lindstrom worked as the Vice President of Public Affairs for the Minnesota High Tech Association. He was also elected in 1999 to the Falcon Heights City Council, elected mayor in 2007 and re-elected in 2011.

Sophia Ginis

sophia.JPG Sophia Ginis is the Outreach Manager at the Center for Science, Technology & Public Policy. She is helping the Center manage it cyber image. She is also focused on initiatives that help connect science with culture and art.

Steve Kelley

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Steve Kelley is the Director of the Center for Science, Technology & Public Policy, and a senior fellow at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. As a former State Legislator, Kelley has brought a policy expertise to the Center in the areas of STEM Education, and information technologies.

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