Second-Order Science and Policy

World Futures 73 (3):119-178 (2017)
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In March 2016, an interdisciplinary group met for two days and two evenings to explore the implications for policy making of second-order science. The event was sponsored by SITRA, the Finnish Parliament's Innovation Fund. Their interest arose from their concern that the well-established ways, including evidence-based approaches, of policy and decision making used in government were increasingly falling short of the complexity, uncertainty, and urgency of needed decision making. There was no assumption that second-order science or second-order cybernetics would reveal any practical possibilities at this early stage of enquiry. On the other hand, some members of the group are practioners in both policy and in facilitating change in sectors of society. Thus, the intellectual concepts were strongly grounded in experience. This is an account of the deliberations of that group and some reflections on what came out of the various shared contributions and ensuing dialogues. The overall conclusion of the event is that there definitely are possibilities that are worthy of further research and exploration.
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