School of Sociology and Social Policy

Image of Alison Mohr

Alison Mohr

Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences



Alison's research combines perspectives from Science and Technology Studies (STS) with concepts from contemporary democratic theory and human geography to critically explore issues of science and technology policy, participatory governance, and science-public-policy relations at the interface of energy, the environment and society.

She has received funding from the European Commission, King Baudouin Foundation, British Council, Wellcome Trust, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), Sciencewise, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Leverhulme Trust.

Alison joined the Institute for Science and Society (ISS) in 2007 following four years at the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster. She has a PhD in STS and Science Policy from Griffith University, Australia.

Alison is currently a Leverhulme Senior Research Fellow leading a project in Making Science Public: Challenges and Opportunities, a five-year research programme funded by the Leverhulme Trust (2012-2017). The programme is exploring the evolving relationship between science, politics and publics, and the normative implications for problems relating to political legitimacy, scientific authority and democratic participation.

Expertise Summary

Alison's research focuses on the complex often political relations between energy, the environment and society and encompasses three distinct yet interconnected areas:

  • critical perspectives of the purposes, performances and policy potential of public engagement, and implications for notions of democracy, transparency, legitimacy etc., in the context of good governance;
  • stakeholder and public assessments of the social and political dimensions of emerging energy and environmental technologies and implications for technology policy futures;
  • understanding different types of uncertainties inherent in and embodied by different types of impact assessments and implications for modelling energy futures. The potential to add policy value to sustainability assessment through consideration of the rarely integrated social dimension, and the role of social science in this regard, is a core interest.

Teaching Summary

I currently contribute to the following modules:

  • L34113 Innovation and Society
  • L31626 Science, Health and the Environment
  • L34118 Energy Systems and Policy
  • L34105 Science Technology and Society

PhD students:

  • Richard Helliwell, 'Sustaining Biomass Supply Chains in the UK' (ESRC Doctoral Training Centre studentship)
  • Steffen Becker, 'The capability approach as an evaluative framework for TVET programmes in bilateral development cooperation. A Case Study of the "Skills Development for a Green Economy" Programme in South Africa'
  • Beverley Gibbs, 'Scoping Scientific Citizenship in a low-carbon Scotland' (ESRC/Scottish government collaborative studentship), 2015
  • Szczepan Lemańczyk, 'Perspectives on nanotechnology from Swedish, Polish and Iranian press coverage', 2013

Research Summary

An overview of Alison's current and future work can be found here:

Selected Publications

Past Research

  • Commissioned by Sciencewise/BIS to develop a thought leadership paper to address how we should understand 'the public' in public dialogue. To improve the prospects for public dialogue and clarify what it can contribute to policy-making, this policy report explores 'who or what is the public' to make better sense of why and when public dialogue is carried out.dialogue and when.
  • Social and Ethical Dimensions theme (2009-2012) with the Lignocellulosic Conversion to Ethanol (LACE) programme, one of six that comprise the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC). In collaboration with Dr Sujatha Raman (PI) and Dr Kate Millar, our work contributed to demonstrating the significance of drawing attention to the social dimension, hitherto under explored or narrowly defined in sustainability assessments.
  • Pilot work funded by the Wellcome Trust that involved an overview of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in biomedical research in the UK, the identification of norms considered by partners to be important to the successful functioning of the partnership, how these may be in conflict and the identification of possible areas for policy intervention and future research.
  • Evaluated the UK Stem Cell Dialogue on the science, and the social and ethical issues, of stem cell research (funded by BBSRC, MRC, Sciencewise)
  • ESRC-funded project that used the European Group on Ethics (EGE) as a case study to map the perspectives of 'official bioethics' in the EU, track the impact of bioethics advice in parliamentary and legislative processes, and contribute to a wider analysis of the role and influence of expert bioethics advice on the governance of biotechnologies in the EU. This research highlighted the ethical tensions between consumerism and solidarity posed by commercial cord blood banking and revealed a number of salient social, political, and normative concerns that formed the basis of the EGE's considerations in developing its opinion on cord blood banking.

Future Research

Interested in developing new approaches and understandings of the complex relations between science, technology and society that continue to raise significant questions about the processes of knowledge and policy making, who is included in or excluded from such processes and who drives research and policy agendas.

An overview of Alison's current and future research can be found here:

School of Sociology and Social Policy

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