The art of trans-boundary governance: the case of synthetic biology


Synthetic biology raises few, if any, social concerns that are distinctively new. Similar to many other convergent technologies, synthetic biology’s interface across various scientific communities and interests groups presents an incessant challenge to political and conceptual boundaries. However, the scale and intensity of these interfaces seem to necessitate a reflection over how corresponding governance capacities can be developed. This paper argues that, in addition to existing regulatory approaches, such capacities may be gained through the art of trans-boundary governance, which is not only attentive to the crossing and erosion of particular boundaries but also adept in keeping up with the dynamics among evolving networks of actors.

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This paper draws on the author’s research funded by the Royal Society Science Policy Centre, carried out at the London School of Economics and Political Science. The author wishes to thank Professor Nikolas Rose and Dr. Claire Marris for their comments on previous drafts of this work.

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Correspondence to Joy Y. Zhang.

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Zhang, J.Y. The art of trans-boundary governance: the case of synthetic biology. Syst Synth Biol 7, 107–114 (2013).

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  • Art of governance
  • Synthetic biology
  • Boundary
  • Global governance