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Fabien Photo

Senior Lecturer

Tel +64 3 479 7848

I'm a social epistemologist; I study the relationship between knowledge and society and how social interactions shape, create and direct what counts as knowledge. And there's no better space to study this than science communication and science policy.

I usually take a philosophical approach in my studies, though I also engage in empirical research. Basically, data without good reasoning isn't particularly insightful, and reasoning without grounding it or relating it to the empirical world isn't particularly meaningful.

I'm especially interested in areas that are challenging and uncomfortable, from ethical and justice issues (who gets to know what and who should get to know what; who gets a say and who should get a say; etc) to questions over contentious or controversial science and technologies (gene tech; alternative medicine; etc). I also have an interest in how economics (the discipline, not the economy) is made public, and how that interacts with other forms of knowledge and expertise.

I'm an active member of the science communication community in New Zealand and internationally, and was the president of the Science Communicators' Association of New Zealand from 2015 to 2018.

Current Teaching

Research interests

I have three core areas of interest:

  • Normative questions in social epistemology (from the ethics of science communication to the value of ignorance in knowledge making to the ethics of RRI)
  • The relationship between economics and knowledge (from making economics public to how economics shapes knowledge through policies)
  • Social engagement in contentious issues (from alternative health to nuclear research and anything in between, but currently focusing on gene tech for pest control)

Potential Postgraduate Projects

I am happy to consider supervising project on the following topics:

  • Economics in the public space
  • Ethical issues in science communication and/or social epistemology
  • Novel technology/contentious science and the public
  • Science policy, participation, and responsible innovation

Current Postgraduate Student and Student Research


  • Matt Fuller: The campaign to ban Depleted Uranium
  • Alba Suarez Garcia: Poetry, Podcasts and narratives
  • Suzanne Claessen: Unloved Biodiversity and cartoons
  • Samantha Clarke: How GMO is represent in the media in three countries


  • Olivia Taylor-Peebles: The human-nature relationship
  • Wen Qing Ng: Dog walkers in Kauri forests
  • Millie Johnston: Neurotech and Responsible Innovation

Recent Books

de Saille, S., F. Medvecky, M van Oudheusden, K Albertson, E Amanatidou, T Birabi and M Pansera, (2020). Responsibility Beyond Growth: A Case for Responsible Stagnation, Policy Press

Medvecky, F. & Leach, J. (2019). An Ethics of Science Communication. Palgrave, London.

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