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A Learning Platform for early detection of tree pests and pathogens: excellent theory, challenging in practice?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


M Marzano, Rehema Mary White, Glyn Jones

School/Research organisations


Robust science is required to develop new and emerging technologies. However, evidence suggests that socio-technological innovation also demands interactions across academics, end users and those involved in commercial development and marketing. Theoretically, stakeholder engagement can enhance science impacts, the efficacy of new technologies, increase buy in and improve relationships and understanding between groups. This was the premise of our involvement, as social scientists, in a large, complex research project developing five cutting edge technologies for early detection of tree pests and pathogens. Our role included development of a Learning Platform to facilitate a 'participatory interdisciplinarity' approach to technology implementation. We supported large, interactive annual workshops using novel approaches (e.g. a Dragon's Den, Pecha Kucha, café sessions, technology markets) and Socio-technological Learning Labs (e.g. at Heathrow, Southampton docks). A series of interviews and focus group discussions with scientists and others have allowed us to understand barriers and opportunities for promoting scientific and social aspects of technological development. We tracked 'scientific progress' against adapted Diagnostic Technology Readiness Levels. It appears that whilst project participants are changing their thinking, they are struggling to change their practices due to limitations of time, confidence and opportunity. Targeted, time sensitive stakeholder engagement is preferred but this will vary depending on the technology readiness level (TRL), whilst the more diffuse benefits of broader social learning remain difficult to defend. We employ nexus thinking to discuss our results within theoretical frameworks appropriate to socio-technological innovation and innovation theory.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2016
EventRGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016 - Royal Geographical Society, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Aug 20162 Sep 2016


ConferenceRGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016
CountryUnited Kingdom

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