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Science Capital amongst professionals

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, March 29, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Science capital is a concept developed by Prof Louise Archer and her team which addresses an individual’s exposure to, and knowledge of, science. It is based on the concepts of Social Capital (where our social networks have value and enable us to achieve what we wouldn’t on our own) and Cultural Capital (where we gain knowledge and skills from belonging to a particular social class and can create collective identity) which were determined by Pierre Bourdieu. Although the concept of science capital was initially developed within the area of education, it has also been applied more broadly in relation to adult understanding, practice and policy as demonstrated by the work of the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons in the UK [1].

In the context of science as evidence within the justice system, the amount of scientific evidence used in the courtroom continues to increase, although the methodologies that support much of this evidence have been under scrutiny since the National Academy of Sciences published their landmark report in 2009. The science capital of those involved with evidence capture, reporting and decision making is therefore of upmost importance when the knowledge they have, decisions they make and their subsequent interactions impact on criminal trials, convictions, and sentencing.

Mixed research methods will be employed to understand the science capital of each profession involved in the investigative crime scene to court process. This will include assessing each of the areas that underpin the overarching concept, such as science literacy, science related attitudes and values, science media consumption and the ability to interact with scientific experts in relation to individuals drawn from each of those professions involved in the investigative process. It is envisaged that those professions will include crime scene investigators, the police and members of the law profession. Techniques will include systematic literature reviews, surveys and interviews. The research work will build on science communication research, public engagement knowledge and adult education to determine best approaches in engaging these diverse groups with the aim of improving decision making based on scientific evidence. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop and define the research objectives relating to the project with the supervisory team.

An undergraduate or masters degree (including BSc/BA/MSc/MA) in a relevant discipline which may include but isn’t limited to; communication, science communication, education, psychology and criminology. Experience in quantitative and qualitative methods including systematic reviews, interviews, survey design would be an advantage.

1. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Science communication and engagement Eleventh Report of Session 2016–17 https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmsctech/162/162.pdf
2. ‘‘Science Capital’’: A Conceptual,Methodological, and Empirical Argument for Extending Bourdieusian Notions of Capital Beyond the Arts. Louise Archer, Emily Dawson, Jennifer DeWitt, Amy Seakins and Billy Wong http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1469306/10/Dawson_1469306.pdf

This PhD will explore the science capital of the professional non-scientists involved in all aspects of a criminal investigation from crime scene to court, including the police, crime scene investigators and members of the legal profession.

To register their interest candidates are requested to submit a full CV and cover letter, these should be sent to Dr Lucina Hackman (), Dr Heather Doran () and Dr Emma Comrie ()

Funding Notes

The studentship is based at the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS), University of Dundee. Informal inquiries can be made to Dr Hackman (). UK and EU students will be eligible for full-fee studentships and will be eligible for an annual stipend. Non-UK or non-EU students may be admitted to the programme but will be required to pay full overseas fees and costs if accepted.

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