Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lawrence Busch, "Standards and Society: Recipes for Reality"

The Institute for Food & Agricultural Standards (IFAS) at Michigan State University presents Dr. Lawrence Busch giving a seminar titled, “Standards & Society: Recipes for Reality.”  This event will be held Friday morning, December 11 from 9:00-12:00 in the Kellogg Center, Room 102.  Coffee at 8:30.  Dr. Lawrence Busch is the Professor of Standards and Society, Lancaster University, United Kingdom, and University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University.

What do apples, laptops, climate change, banking, surgeons, universities, automobiles, information technologies, and health care have in common?  They all involve the design, implementation, and enforcement of standards.  At first glance these standards appear to be technical details that, while essential, are of concern only to specialists.  But standards are also a form of power – the power to set the rules we must follow, or options among which we must choose.  Until a century ago, most standards were used to standardize, to make things the same.  Today, partly in response to the shift to neoliberal, market-based governance, standards are used strategically by nations, companies, and private voluntary organizations.  They are used in conflicting ways to differentiate among products, processes, and people. 

This workshop will provide an overview of Dr. Lawrence Busch’s recent work on standards, along with opportunities for discussion and more in-depth engagement with a number of IFAS researchers. Larry’s forthcoming book “shows us how standards are recipes for reality that may lead us down another road to serfdom or enhance democracy and social justice.”  The workshop will begin with a presentation from Dr. Busch, summarizing some key elements of the book. After the break, short reaction presentations on the manuscript’s development of links to ethics and to social justice will kick off an additional hour of discussion and exploration of key themes. 

Dr. Busch has promised that he will not sing.

Funds for this workshop have been provided by the W. K. Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University. There is no fee for attendance, but space is limited. Please RSVP to Mrs. Amy Rusnell, Institute for Food and Agricultural Standards, MSU:

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