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Governing Knowledge Through START and the Expansion of Global Environmental Change Research

Uhrqvist, Ola. 2013. Governing Knowledge Through START and the Expansion of Global Environmental Change Research. In Methmann et al. Interpretive Approaches to Global Climate Governance: (De)constructing the greenhouse, Routledge, 152-165.


The SysTem for Analysis, Research, and Training (START) project was launched in 1992 as an international science project that sought to stimulate and coordinate the development of global change research. Developed collaboratively by the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme, World Climate Research Programme, and Human Dimensions of global environmental change Programme, START was designed primarily to change how scientific knowledge is produced and turned into policy. Its capacity-building portfolio includes fostering the expertise needed to produce the authoritative scientific knowledge required for global environmental and climate governance. This chapter examines scientific rationalities and practices as they became visible when START expanded into new areas. The production of scientific knowledge is understood as dependent on knowledge infrastructures and the structuring of information as connected with power and the ability to govern. The chapter demonstrates how the expansion of the Global Environmental Change research network was organized around a set of changing rationalities mixing policy impacts, infrastructure, and scientific needs. Interpretative analysis of central newsletters and reports enables a genealogical analysis of the emergence of the present knowledge infrastructure, paying special attention to the idea of the Earth system as a rationality and technology of government. In doing so, the study contributes to debate on knowledge and power in global environmental change research, especially in connection with research in developing countries.

 Keywords: START, knowledge infrastructure, Earth system science, global environmental change



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