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Durham University

Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS)


Colleagues are very welcome at the following events hosted by CHESS and K4U (ERC project) this academic year

Workshop: Science Policy and Political Science

21st March 2019, 15:00 to 17:30, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library

The talks will cover topics in political science and science policy. It will offer a great opportunity for discussing the science/policy interrelation both methodologically and as a policy issue. In her talk, "The V-Dem Project: Measuring Democracy", Professor Crasnow will discuss the challenges of measuring democracy, and look in particular at the V-Dem project, which is an attempt to accomplish this goal in a methodologically sophisticated way. She will also consider what this instance can tell us about social scientific measurement in general. Dr. Koskinen, in her talk "Two Types of Success: Epistemic Exchange and Societal Impact in Extra-academic Research Collaborations", will critically discuss a widespread assumption in science policy: that an exchange of knowledge is a necessary condition of successful research collaborations beyond academia. She will argue that the desired social impact of these collaborations can take place even without such exchanges.


Prof Sharon Crasnow (Norco College)

The V-Dem Project: Measuring Democracy

Indices of democracy (measurement of democracy) raise a variety of concerns. First, the latent concept of democracy needs to be clarified in order for coding to proceed and measures to be determined. Second, the multiple purposes for which we might seek measures of democracy suggest that multiple measures are needed, each differently suitable and dependent on the purposes for which they are needed. Questions of aggregation and disaggregation of the components of democracy – many of which differ among the different indices – depend on decisions about indicators of the concept “democracy” and vary among indices. Third, the belief that measurement serves only as an intermediate step in the process of testing hypotheses limits discussion of the role of measurement in other aspects of knowledge production. V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy), a project that began roughly 10 years ago, explicitly addresses many of these concerns through greater transparency about methodology and a fine-grained disaggregation of indicators of democracy. “We provide a multidimensional and disaggregated dataset that reflects the complexity of the concept of democracy as a system of rule that goes beyond the simple presence of elections. The V-Dem project distinguishes between five high-level principles of democracy: electoral, liberal, participatory, deliberative, and egalitarian, and collects data to measure these principles” ( In this talk, I explore the claims made for V-Dem, the question of what it means to measure an abstract concept like democracy, and whether this project can tell us about the measurement of such concepts in the social sciences more generally.

Dr Inkeri Koskinen (University of Helsinki)

Two Types of Success: Epistemic Exchange and Societal Impact in Extra-academic Research Collaborations

All welcome and refreshments provided – please contact the Centre Administrator at to confirm attendance

Contact for more information about this event.

For Further Information

For further information on all our events, including details on how to register, contact us at CHESS and K4U
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Contact CHESS

Department of Philosophy
Durham University
50 Old Elvet

Tel: 0191 334 6552
Fax: 0191 334 6551