Science, Policy and Epidemiology

Workshop, University of Florence, Department of Statistics
November 21-23, 2011

Sponsorship of The International Biometric Society, Italian Region


Chairperson: Annibale Biggeri (University of Florence)

Description: the workshop aims at discussing the foundations of the Science-Policy interaction and focuses on Epidemiology and Prevention. The modern (classical) paradigm in which researchers quantify the strength of empirical evidence to be used in governance decision processes may fail when facing complex problems, uncertain knowledge and risks. Several approaches have been proposed in order to bridge the gap created in the legitimation of political action (e.g. precautionary principle, extended participation), each with its own characteristic complications .The workshop will review the basis of the modern conceptual model of rational decision making, the emergence of probability and the role of statistical information, and their limitations (irreducible uncertainty, conflicting certainties, indeterminacy, conflict of interests). It will also explore novel approaches and alternatives in a context where trust is in decline.

The workshop is scheduled to run on a three days basis.

On day 1, the conceptual background and current practices will be reviewed. Real examples will be presented and discussed by the participants.
On day 2, new approaches, including an innovative framework for uncertainty management will be explored, enabling different sorts of uncertainty in quantitative information to be analysed and communicated in a standardised and user-friendly way. Examples and experiences on these approaches will be discussed.
On day 3, the workshop will focus on uncertainty and extended knowledge assessment. Global sensitivity analysis will be formalised and real examples will be developed with the participants.

Participants come from different backgrounds:

1- epidemiologists
2- statisticians
3- citizen committees' members
4- scientific journalists
5- health managers, local or national representatives, trustees

The workshop is on a closed format.
For those interested to participate please send by e-mail a letter of intent specifying your background, a CV and an abstract of a real example you aim to present to:

Annibale Biggeri
Department of Statistics "G. Parenti"
University of Florence
Viale Morgagni 59
50134 Florence (IT)

Download workshop flyer




Related materials:

Download all related materials in a zipfile [**updated 23-11-2011**]

S. Funtowicz, R. Strand. (2011) Change and commitment: beyond risk and responsibility. Journal of Risk Research, DOI:10.1080/13669877.2011.571784 first published on: 13 May 2011 (iFirst).

A. Saltelli, B. D'Hombres. (2010) Sensitivity analysis didn't help. A practitioner's critique of the Stern review. Global Environmental Change, 20:298-302.

J.P. van der Sluijs, A.C. Petersen, P.H.M. Janssen, James S Risbey and Jerome R. Ravetz (2008). Exploring the quality of evidence for complex and contested policy decisions, Environmental Research Letters, 3 024008 (9pp)

Jeroen P. van der Sluijs, Matthieu Craye, Silvio Funtowicz, Penny Kloprogge, Jerry Ravetz, and James Risbey (2005). Combining Quantitative and Qualitative Measures of Uncertainty in Model based Environmental Assessment: the NUSAP System, Risk Analysis, 25 (2). p. 481-492

A. Saltelli (2002) Global Sensitivity Analysis: An Introduction. EU ISPRA

S. Funtowicz, J Ravetz. (1993) Science for the post-normal age. Futures, 25:739-755.

J.A. Curry and P.J. Webster, (2011) Climate Science and the Uncertainty Monster. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society

J.P. van der Sluijs (2005), Uncertainty as a monster in the science policy interface: four coping strategies. Water science and technology, 52 (6), 87-92.

Further Reading:


Related online course

E-learning course Knowledge Quality Assessment (work in progress)


Documentation for the case studies

The Radio vaticano trial

The smog trial / Ultra Fine Particles

Waste heath effect: scientific evidence and policies

From quality of study designs to quality of evidence: the GRADE,approach to formulate recommendations to patients, clinicians and policy makers

Inequalities in health and public actions (national and EU projects)

Burden of disease assessment

Hands on experience with KQA

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