Being an expert organization in the making, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) faces the challenge to create an organisation which is able to facilitate a dialogue between science and policy today, and to remain credible, relevant, and legitimate tomorrow. In this, how do IPBES work to recruit and reproduce expertise needed for delivering assessments? How is new researchers socialized and integrated into the expert organizations’ epistemic perspective and social practices? What function does reproducing expertise have in the institutionalization of expert organizations? These questions are central for this paper, which analyze IPBES’s pilot fellowship program for young scholars.
The fellowship program was launched early 2015 with the explicit aim to integrate young scholars in the Platform’s regional and sub-regional assessment processes, thereby strengthening its capacity and knowledge foundations. The ambition is that the program will be expanded to eventually “create a pool of competent professionals able to carry forward the Platform agenda”. The participating young scholars will have a unique position and role in the making of IPBES. Participating in the program implies that they will have to balance (i) the expectations of having both a contributory and a learning position; and (ii) the commitment to work pro bono (without any economic compensation) in an assessment processes with keeping engagement with home institutions.
Through a combined analysis of documents and interviews with IPBES representatives involved in the fellowship program, this study explores this program, in particular what capacities IPBES are looking for and what role the young scholars play in the assessment process as well as for IPBES general development. The analysis finds that there are both benefits and risks attached to the involvement of young scholars in the assessment process. By way of conclusion, some general remarks on the conditions of recruiting and socializing new expertise is raised.
2016. 278-279 p.
3rd ISA Forum of Sociology. The Futures We Want: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World, Vienna, Austria, July 10-14, 2016