Medicine, Science, and New Regimes of Accountability: Governance in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century (Utrecht, 21-22 June 2018)

4 juni 2018

This workshop explores the changing governance of medicine and the biomedical sciences in the second half of the twentieth century. In this period, the professional role of physicians and scientists in developed nations changed radically. Whereas up until the 1950s they had enjoyed a high degree of autonomy in deciding what type of interventions were permitted in their research and practice, they were increasingly called upon in the years thereafter to justify their conduct in formally arranged settings.

This change in governance was not limited to medicine and the biomedical sciences. In a wide variety of professional domains, the latter half of the twentieth century saw the rise of what anthropologists have termed ‘a culture of accountability’: the realization of oversight regimes designed to subject the performance of professionals to regular inspection and to oblige them to account for their activities in organized settings. Yet, in the governance of medicine and the biomedical sciences, this change has often been considered drastic and disruptive—an aberration from the old status quo that was believed to be historically without precedent and that experienced tensions with ideals of professional autonomy and scientific freedom in ‘open societies’.

With a group of historians, science scholars and health care managers, this workshop takes stock of research into postwar governance of medicine and the biomedical sciences and intends to bring together a community of people who are keen on reflecting on the goals and limits of medicine and science and their position in late modern societies.


Thursday, June 21

9.30-10.00: Coffee & arrivals

Chair: Frank Huisman

10.00-10.45: Introductory lecture (Noortje Jacobs): ‘Ethics by committee. Attempts at governing medical science in late modern democracies’

10.45-12.45: Reflections from the trenches

  • Margriet Schneider (Chair of the Board, UMC Utrecht): title tba
  • Wendy Reijmerink (ZonMW): ‘Improving societal impact of health research: How to govern from a funders perspective’
  • Annelien Bredenoord (UMC Utrecht): title tba

12.45-14.00: lunch

14.00-16.00: Internal control

  • Laura Stark (Nashville, USA): ‘Scientists as regulators: Consensus and the problem of authority in late modern ethics review’
  • Sara de Rijcke (CWTS Leiden): title tba
  • Ivan Flis (UU): ‘Open Science as a reform movement’

16.00-16.30: Taking stock

17.00: Drinks

19:00 Conference dinner

Friday, June 22

(Kanunnikenzaal). Chair: Nancy Tomes

9.30-11.30: External control

  • Nancy Tomes (Stony Brook, USA): ‘The patient as “watch bird”: Patients’ roles in the quest for “quality improvement” in the late 20th c. U.S.’
  • James Kennedy (UC Utrecht): title tba
  • Duncan Wilson (Manchester, UK): ‘”A single European market in ethical ideas”: Towards a history of bioethics in the EEC and the EU’

11.30-12.10: Political dealings

  • Roland Bal (EUR): ‘Layering the health care system: From professional dominance to organized professionalism’

12.10-13.30: Lunch

13.30-15.00: Political dealings (ctd)

  • Timo Bolt (EUR): ‘A doctor’s order: the Dutch case of evidence-based medicine’
  • Paul Atkinson (Liverpool, UK): ‘New regimes of accountability in health services research: England since the 1990s’

15.00-15.30: Refreshments

15.30-16.00: Final discussion (Frank & Nancy)


Belle van Zuylenzaal, Academiegebouw, Domplein 29, 3512 JE  Utrecht

Admission and registration

The workshop is open to all those who are interested. Due to limited seating capacity, we kindly ask you to sign up to the workshop by sending an email to Lunch will be provided.