June 2018 \ Diaspora News \ DIASPORA FACULTY Q&A
Shaping science, technology debates: U-M’s Shobita Parthasarathy

Shobita Parthasarathy was recently promoted to full professor at the Ford School of Public Policy...

I spent some time working in science and technology policy in Washington, D.C., which motivated me to pursue a research that would be helpful to policymakers. It took me down a new and exciting path. In my research, I have asked how science and technology and related policies, both shape and are shaped by politics and society. I also get to explore whose voices are heard in policy discussions and how we should balance expert and public voices in policymaking. 

There are probably less than 10 Indian-American women scholars in public policy. Why do you think there are so few?

I think that Indians, even children of Indian immigrants, tend to encourage paths that seem to lead clearly to a stable or lucrative career, like engineering, medicine, business or law. As a result, we see few public policy scholars. I didn’t have too many role models when I was a student, but it’s wonderful that there are more and more Indian women and women of color in public policy and in academia who are relatable to students. It has been truly fulfilling for me, allowing me to feel like I am making a difference in the world through my research, teaching and policy engagement. 

What motivates your research and teaching?

My work is dedicated towards understanding and analyzing innovation to better serve society. I ask the question, "How can we do a better job of developing innovation and innovation policy to benefit the public interest, achieve social justice goals and ensure public legitimacy?"




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