Chaire de recherche du Canada en ÉPI

Université Laval


Sameea Ahmed-Hassim is a PhD Fellow with the Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate programme based in the Department of Political Science at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and working in collaboration with LUISS Guido Carli, Rome. Beginning in February 2015, she will also be a visiting researcher at the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society at UC Berkeley.

Research interest

Sameea's research examines Boundary Organizations, which are organizations situated at the science-policy interface, particulary in the context of Global Health Governance.  Their purpose is to facilitate the tranfer of scientific knowledge for policy-relevant use and to guide countries towards achieving credible policy options. Confronted with challenges posing a risk to the scientific enterprise by the tainting of its authority, these organisations are careful to avoid being criticized for stretching into the realm of politics either through the scientization of politics or the politicization of science.  The inclusion of particular kinds of expertise is an important consideration for the quality of their output, however, in developing global recommendations these organizations attempt to gain a global vision in a world with disparities in expertise and where solutions may lie beyond the scope of their limited contextual knowledge, in more comprehensive causal understandings or are beyond their assessment capabilities.  In addition, resource inequalities compel their strategic use, for which avoiding a host of pressures from interested and affected parties becomes necessary. As such, they apprear to be striving for democratic representation and transparency, working with clearly defined standards for their conduct based on rigorous scientific practices, as a means of gaining legitimacy, although still maintaining decisionmaking powers in some instances over other actors.  

The blurring of the boundary between science and policy is seen by scholarship of such organisations (in the realm of Global Environmental Governance) as a way of improving interactions between the two, however, Boundary Organizations also essentially maintain a line of seperation/boundary between them through boundary work, dividing tasks and drawing lines of responsibility. This research aims to understand how the design of Boundary Organisations, how it defines what and who is included, affects the usefulness of the knowledge they produce. It looks critically at the dynamics of openness and the boundary work, dissecting the power politics to assess the extent to which inclusion and pluralism contribute to more acceptable forms of knowledge production or a form of uneven biopolitical power dynamic.

Accordingly, this research is focused on understanding the design of two prominent global advisory groups dealing with immunization and bioethics respectively. It looks at the interactions they enable between experts and policy-makers and the kinds of knowledge that is produced, thus looking empirically at the ways in which knowledge becomes useful, trustworthy and believable as a result of design choices.

Particular interest is placed on elaborating on concepts such as boundary organisations, boundary-work and co-production.  These concepts have been developed by scholars focused on Global Environmental Governance and the particular innovation in this research lies in transferring them across to the study of Global Health Governance.

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