This research workshop explores potentially transformative research (PTR), a concept that plays an important role in policy debates, and in public discourse about the future of science in society. This workshop will bring together a group of policy makers, and prominent researchers in order to: - Identify gaps in our current thinking about PTR - Provide greater conceptual clarity to the complex of issues surrounding calls for NSF to better promote "potentially transformative" research - Develop a research agenda that goes beyond the typical intradisciplinary engagement of scholars with scholars on areas of interest only to those scholars.
This workshop will contribute to ongoing research in the fields of a) the history and philosophy of science, b) psychology of science, and c) science of science and innovation policy. Participants will continue and deepen investigations previously initiated by the National Science Board (NSB), as well as widening the discussion of three previous workshops organized by the PI and co-PI regarding the incorporation of societal impacts considerations into the peer review process. The workshop will also outline empirical strategies that may be fruitfully applied to the study of transformative research. Finally, this workshop not only addresses potentially transformative research, but also explores a novel way of organizing workshops by bringing together practitioners, policy makers, and scholars for a conversation.
This workshop will contribute to ongoing discussions on whether and how to fund high-risk, high-reward research. The organizers conducted a workshopn on the incorporation of societal impacts considerations into the peer review process, especially NSF's Broader Impacts Criterion, and have a track record of disseminating their findings to policy makers, both at federal agencies and in Congress, as well as making them available to scholars.
" at NSF Headquarters in Virginia. The workshop explored the history and alternative conceptions of a term – "potentially transformative research" (PTR) – that has come to play an increasingly important role in policy debates at NSF, at other federal agencies, and in public discourse about the future of science in society. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has defined PTR as research that "meets fundamental technological or scientific challenges, involves multidisciplinary work, and involves a high degree of novelty"; and as involving "ideas, discoveries, or tools that radically change our understanding of an important existing scientific or engineering concept or educational practice or leads to the creation of a new paradigm or field of science, engineering, or education." The importance of PTR is reflected by the fact that NSF has: modified its intellectual merit review criterion to include PTR; established an agency-wide Facilitating Transformative and Interdisciplinary Research (FacTIR) working group; added several funding mechanisms, EAGER and CREATIV, to support PTR; and provided training to program officers on the importance of PTR. The notion of PTR also extends beyond NSF. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) promotes transformative research via a solicitation that speaks of "transformative apps"; and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have a Transformative Research Projects Program (R01). This workshop brought together policy makers, officials from NSF and other federal science agencies, and prominent researchers across the STEM disciplines and within science and technology studies (i.e., from the history and philosophy of science, policy studies, philosophy of science policy, science of science and innovation policy) in order to: Identify gaps in our current thinking about PTR Provide greater conceptual clarity to the complex of issues surrounding calls for NSF to better promote "potentially transformative" research Develop a research agenda that goes beyond the typical intradisciplinary engagement of scholars with scholars on areas of interest only to those scholars. The goal of the workshop was to facilitate long-term engagement between the community of researchers on science, technology, and society with the science policy community. The outcomes of this workshop included a) a workshop report and b) an edited volume forthcoming in the peer-reviewed journal Social Epistemology.