Science and Society shifts focus to bioeconomy
The bioeconomy has become a major focus of both the federal government
and Iowa State University.
The Institute of Science and Society in the College of Liberal Arts and
Sciences is jumping on the bandwagon.
"In light of the literal ‘explosion' of the bioeconomy in Iowa as
well as the nation, the university's growing focus on bioeconomy issues,
and the positive and negative consequences of bioeconomy expansion for
the environment, we are expanding the current focus of the Institute,"
said John Miranowski, professor of economics and Science and Society director.
"Ultimately the bioeconomy is where the action is. And we believe
that this expanded focus will facilitate the integration of social sciences
research and education with what is happening in LAS departments, centers
and colleges, and the university's mission."
Science and Society's mission is to highlight the role of the social sciences
in research and education and foster interdisciplinary approaches in both
LAS and the university. Miranowski says he hopes to raise the visibility
of the social sciences through interdisciplinary research and education
tied to the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of an expanding bioeconomy.
In order to accomplish this, the Institute of Science and Society has
several activities planned over the next three years including:
- Workshops and seminars that highlight interdisciplinary
research involving the social sciences;
- Jointly sponsor forums on implications of bioeconomy
- Collaborate and cooperate with other institutes and
centers in sciences, engineering, agriculture and humanities;
- Seed grants for developing interdisciplinary seminars
and research proposals;
- Better position faculty for external funding.
"I believe the Institute of Science and Society is positioned extremely
well to look at the bioeconomy," Miranowski says. "Changing
our focus gives us the perfect vehicle to do that."
Miranowski says the Institute will focus not only on the benefits of the
bioeconomy but the cost of bioeconomy expansion to society in terms of
water quality, air quality, climate change and community development.
"If we as a nation expand ethanol and other biofuels to high enough
levels, there will be serious environmental and societal issues we will
have to face," he said.
Interested LAS faculty that would like to be faculty affiliates in the refocused
Science and Society should contact Miranowski.
Groups are already forming including a group that will look at community
impacts of the bioeconomy in areas of community welfare, jobs and reduction
of poverty. Another group is looking at various communications aspects
and effects of the bioeconomy.
"We've had a very positive response to Science and Society's new
direction," Miranowski said. "Faculty see this as a real opportunity
to focus on a critical issue facing society through interdisciplinary
March 26 to April 8, 2007