Scientific Assessments, Ethics, and Public Policy

The working group does research about the science-policy interface and normative issues. Our analyses focus on deliberation, values and ethics in integrated, environment-related policy assessments.


Team members

Head:  Dr. Martin Kowarsch

Dr. Lukas Beck
Dr. Mareike Blum


Research agenda 

The group primarily carries out critical-constructive research on integrated scientific assessments and other formats of scientific policy advice (e.g., EU SAM), as well as on philosophical ethics for sustainability governance. We aim to improve the design of the science-policy interface in terms of promoting deliberative democratic learning processes. According to the "Pragmatic-enlightened model” (PEM) for science in policy, which was developed at MCC, assessments should explore the various implications of alternative policy pathways in collaboration with stakeholders and the public. Given the entanglement of facts and values, the explicit and constructive treatment of value issues and ethics is crucial in this regard. The group employs various methods, including, among other things, philosophical argumentation, empirical social-science research and applications of deliberative democracy theory, the Values-Beliefs-Norms theory as well as social learning theory.


Research projects

Besides the development of the PEM philosophy, a big project conducted by this group was the joint research initiative together with UN Environment on the future of global environmental assessment making (FOGEAM, 2013–2017). This project inter alia resulted in a Special Issue of Environmental Science & Policy and a high-ranking synthesis article in 2017. Currently, the group is developing new ways of integrating values and ethical reflections in scientific assessments – in 2019, the team organized a conference on this topic. Dominic Lenzi is furthermore doing research on ethical aspects of negative emissions as well as on resource justice and property rights issues related to the management of natural global commons. Additionally, Martin Kowarsch is working on effective practical formats to foster deliberative learning processes at the national science-policy interface in the age of populism.


Current publications

Blum, M., Wolf, I., Huttarsch, J.-H., Kowarsch, M. , 2023

Quo vadis Klimapolitik? Bürgerperspektiven auf Politikoptionen in Energie und Verkehr

Edenhofer, O., Kowarsch, M., 2023

Klimaschutz und Klimawandel

Handbuch Angewandte Ethik, 2. aktualisierte underweiterte Auflage