The use of quantitative science for governance: how to assess promises of a sustainable future

Project facts

Project promoter
Autonomous University of Barcelona
Project Number:
Target groups
Researchers or scientists
Initial project cost:
Final project cost:
From EEA Grants:
€ 8,271
The project is carried out in:

More information


More and more in sustainability studies it is recognized that there is a serious problem to be faced when generating quantitative data to be used in decision-making. There is an urgent need to move beyond mono-dimensional indicators of sustainability and focus on the quality of the process of production of quantitative information. The objective of the project is to study the quality of the scientific process with relation to the specific case study on smart grids. The development of smart grids and their promises for a sustainable future will be used as a case study given the high uncertainty that surrounds this technology and the urgency for sustainable energy systems. The methodology used will be the result of the combination of the expertise provided by the Donor Partner (University of Bergen) in the field of "theory of science" and the project promoter's expertise (Autonomous University of Barcelona) in multi-scale integrated assessment. The project is expected to benefit the Scientific Community.

Summary of project results

The research stay funded by the project was intended to develop a framework of analysis integrating the approaches of the two partner institutions, namely the multi-scale integrated assessment approach developed by the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the research on ethical, social and epistemological aspects carried out at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities of the University of Bergen. The framework developed was applied to the analysis of smart grids, which constitutes one of the case studies of the PhD dissertation of the beneficiary and contributed to the analysis developed for the European Project FP7 EPINET, which both institutions are part of. Therefore, the project attempted two needs: (i) the research stay was very beneficial to the beneficiary in order to develop one of the case studies of her PhD thesis and to reinforce the theoretical background of the latter; and (ii) the project contributed to strengthening the relationships between the two partner institutions, towards a closer collaboration and knowledge exchange on research topics and methods. During the project implementation, the researcher carried out the literature review and discourse analysis of the transcriptions from the focus group interviews with the experts of smart grids, which took place within the EPINET EU FP7 project in January 214. In the literature review, she focused on the literature and theory about emerging technologies, responsible research and innovation, philosophy of science, reflexivity and ethical issues. This broad theoretical investigation has been instrumental to establishing a bridge between the approach developed by the research group on Integrated Assessment at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and the research carried out at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities at the University of Bergen, The researcher drafted a manuscript with the material thus produced, which was submitted to the Energy Policy journal on October 2014.

Summary of bilateral results

The partnership made it possible to bring together the approaches developed by the two institutions in the development of a practical case study, and thus to explore the strengths, limitations and complementarities of the two approaches, both in practical and theoretical terms. Both partners have benefited from this collaboration and seek for further opportunities for collaboration and staff exchange in the future. For the near future, partners planned to organize a workshop in order to produce and coordinate the teaching material used by the two groups in order to integrate the curricula currently used with the complementary knowledge and approaches developed by the other group. Prof. Mario Giampietro and the grant beneficiary Zora Kovacic were both invited to the Symposium “Post-normal science in practice” organized by the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities, University of Bergen, in December 2014.