Understanding ‘anticipatory governance’

David H Guston
STS scholar David Guston defines, clarifies, and responds to critiques of “anticipatory governance.” Anticipatory governance is one framework that has gained currency within STS for thinking about how to build the necessary social capacity to govern emerging technologies. The term originated in policy and environmental management scholarship, but it was adapted and developed by Guston and his collaborators at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University (CNS-ASU). Though they initially applied to framework to think about nanotechnology specifically, it has since been applied to other emerging technologies, such as neurotechnology, geoengineering, synthetic biology, and human genome editing (see the related piece by John P. Nelson and colleagues). Anticipatory governance is focused on extending the capacities to manage such emerging technologies in the relatively early stages as these technologies develop, focusing on foresight of plausible futures, engagement of non-expert publics, and integration of the social and natural sciences.