“The Train Has Left the Station”: The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and the Shaping of Nanotechnology Policy in the United States

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the efforts of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) in seeking to influence nanotechnology policy in the United States. Using the conceptual framework of anticipatory governance to guide the analysis, a series of strategies that PEN adopted will be described, including leveraging external expertise, developing cross-disciplinary research products, providing a future-oriented view on policy analysis, and building a brand for communications and outreach. This case study is a useful example in demonstrating the recent conceptual shift away from relying on government-led technology assessment efforts to consider the longer-term implications of new technologies toward the concept of anticipatory governance that includes a more substantive role for nongovernmental actors, that in providing forward-looking, actionable intelligence for decision makers. Considering the example of PEN also highlights the critical role that boundary-spanning organizations play in linking together disparate communities of expertise.

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