Richard Barke

Associate Professor & Director of Undergraduate Studies

Member Of:
  • School of Public Policy
  • Technology Policy and Assessment Center
Office Location: DM Smith G07
Email Address:


Dr. Richard Barke is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy. He received his BS in Physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a minor in geophysics, launching an interest in the many intersections between science and public policy. He obtained his MA and PhD in Political Science from the University of Rochester. He taught at the University of Houston before returning to Georgia Tech where he chaired the creation of the Ivan Allen College and the School of Public Policy and has served as school chair and as Associate Dean of IAC. He was a consultant to the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government on reforming the congressional science budget process and the processes by which Congress receives scientific and technology advice and was a visiting scholar on similar matters at the University of Ghent, Belgium. His consulting and sponsored research has included companies subject to federal and state regulations; the Houston Area Research Center; the US Departments of Commerce, Energy, and the Army; the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research; the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; and seven National Science Foundation grants.

His research interests focus on the regulation of risk, the roles of politics within science, and of science within politics. He has presented his work at more than one hundred scholarly panels and conferences. In addition to a dozen book chapters Dr. Barke has published in Risk Analysis; Minerva; Social Science Quarterly; Policy Studies Journal; Science, Technology, and Human Values; and Public Choice and is the author of Science, Technology, and Public Policy (CQ Press) and co-author of Governing the American Republic (St. Martin's). Among his awards are Georgia Tech's Outstanding Service Award, the IAC Faculty Legacy Award, ANAK Faculty of the Year, and the Georgia Tech Student Government Association Faculty of the Year Award (twice). He teaches courses on political processes, intergenerational policy, ethics and risk, and regulatory policy, and has team-taught courses with faculty from all six colleges at Georgia Tech. His current work is on long-term policy-making.

  • M.A. and Ph.D., University of Rochester, Political Science
  • B.S., Georgia Institute of Technology, Physics
Areas of
  • American And Comparative Regulatory Policy
  • American Politics: Political Processes, Elections
  • Higher Education Policy
  • Long-term Policy
  • Political Culture
  • Research Policy
  • Risk Analysis


Research Fields:
  • Energy, Climate and Environmental Policy
  • Policy Process, Leadership, and Pre-Law
  • Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy
  • Wicked Problems
  • Australia/ New Zealand
  • Europe
  • United States
  • United States - Georgia
  • Environment
  • Bioethics, Bioscience, Biotechnology
  • Business Strategy
  • Education Policy
  • Framing
  • Governance
  • Institution-Building
  • Interdisciplinary Learning and Partnering
  • Intergenerational Issues
  • Politics
  • Presidential Power
  • Regulation
  • Regulatory Reform
  • Science and Technology
  • Sustainability


  • PHIL-3127: Sci, Tech & Human Values
  • POL-1101: Government of the U.S.
  • PST-3127: Sci,Tech & Human Values
  • PUBP-2010: Political Processes
  • PUBP-2012: Foundation-Public Policy
  • PUBP-2698: Research Assistantship
  • PUBP-3510: Politics and Policy
  • PUBP-4410: Science,Tech& Pub Policy
  • PUBP-4440: Sci Tech & Regulation
  • PUBP-4440: Sci Tech & Regulation: FDA Regulation (BME Galway)
  • PUBP-4651: Public Policy Internship: VIP: VoterTech
  • PUBP-4803: Special Topics: FDA Regulation (Mini-mester)
  • PUBP-6012: Fund of Policy Processes
  • PUBP-6440: Sci Tech & Regulation


Recent Publications


Working Papers

  • Public Policy Models in Deep Time
    Date: 2014

    Influential policy models developed over the past half-century tend to incorporate “time” implicitly, rather than as an explicit factor that affects policy processes. As a result, many these models do not obviously accommodate political and policy questions extending across a generation or more. Policy models should distinguish policy time, the natural timeline of a policy problem, from political time, the timeline of public and institutional attention paid to a particular issue. This article addresses the ability of current policy models to account for this important distinction and introduces a framework for consideration of political time. Expressly accounting for short-term and long-term political time could reveal opportunities for altering the design and implementation of policies with deep-time consequences.

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All Publications


Journal Articles

  • Balancing uncertain risks and benefits in human subjects research
    In: Science Technology and Human Values [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: April 2009
    Composed of scientific and technical experts and lay members, thousands of research ethics committees - Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) in the United States - must identify and assess the potential risks to human research subjects, and balance those risks against the potential benefits of the research. IRBs handle risk and its uncertainty by adopting a version of the precautionary principle. To assess scientific merit, IRBs use a tacit "sanguinity principle," which treats uncertainty as inevitable, even desirable, in scientific progress. In balancing human subjects risks and scientific benefits, IRBs use uncertainty as a boundary-ordering device that allows the mediation of the science and ethics aspects of their decisions. One effect is the entangling of methodological and ethical review. Some have suggested these should be more clearly separated, but decisions by research ethics committees depend in part on the negotiating space created by incommensurable approaches to uncertainty. © 2009 Sage Publications.

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  • Reconciling scientists' beliefs about radiation risks and social norms: Explaining preferred radiation protection standards
    In: Risk Analysis [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: June 2007
    Social scientists have argued about the role of political beliefs in highly charged policy debates among scientific experts. In debates about environmental hazards, the focus of contention is likely to rest on the appropriate scientific assumptions to inform safety standards. When scientific communities are polarized, one would expect to find systematic differences among combatants in the choice of appropriate assumptions, and variation in the application of "precaution" in standard setting. We test this proposition using an experiment applied in a mail survey format to groups of scientists from opposing sides of the nuclear policy debate. Questions were asked about the role of political, social, and epistemological beliefs in reaching scientific and policy judgments about the relationship between radiation dose and cancer incidence in human populations. We find that the precautionary tendency is pervasive regardless of whether the scientist is associated with a putatively pro- or anti-nuclear group. Using a multinomial logit model, we explain a modest percentage of the variation in the choice of preferred judgments about safety standards, but find that distinct sets of political and social values are significantly associated with policy positions among scientists. Implications for scientific advice to policymakers are discussed. © 2007 Society for Risk Analysis.

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  • Environmental concerns and the new environmental paradigm in Bulgaria
    In: Journal of Environmental Education [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: March 2006
    Little is known about environmental concerns and attitudes among people in former Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe despite widespread perceptions of severe environmental problems. The authors addressed this gap by examining Bulgarians' environmental concerns with a focus on whether the new environmental paradigm (NEP) scale can reliably measure their environmental orientations. Three surveys conducted in Bulgaria in 1998, 1999, and 2000 provide evidence of high environmental concern, and proximity to a major petrochemical plant is associated with greater concerns. The 6-item NEP is multidimensional and low in reliability. A scale constructed with 3 items that loaded consistently on 1 factor appears as valid as the 6-item NEP scale and has comparable internal consistency. There is much proenvironmental sentiment in Bulgaria, only part of which the NEP appears to measure. Despite overestimating the magnitude of current government investments in environmental protection, surveyed Bulgarians supported increasing investments in environmental protection. Further attention to both item and scale designs for eliciting environmental orientations in transitional countries is warranted. © 2006 Heldref Publications.

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  • Politics and interests in the Republic of Science
    In: Minerva [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: December 2003
    The institutions of science are composed of communities with conflicting and overlapping interests. In the United States, the internal governance of science resembles the structure of republican government, particularly in its fragmentation, representation, and extension. This article calls upon Michael Polanyi's metaphor of a 'Republic of Science' in the context of American history and political theory, to examine the ways in which these interests are represented. Using the metaphor obliges us to ask about rules of citizenship in the 'Republic', and to determine whether those who pay for science should also be represented in its institutions.

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  • Does Trust Affect Judgments of Risk Acceptability? A Survey-Based Case Study from Burgas, Bulgaria
  • Authority in Science and Technology Policy
    In: Science Communication [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: September 1998
    Many persistent issues in science and technology policy derive from confusion about the boundaries of internal and external authority. One of the most important questions within science and technology policy is how to balance the creative energy of individual scientists with institutional needs, the requirements of research sponsors, and their own professional norms.

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  • Risk Perceptions of Men and Women Scientists
    In: Social Science Quarterly [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: March 1997
    Objective. Studies of the general public have shown that women express far greater concern than men about many health and environmental hazards. A variety of explanations have been offered, including differentials in scientific knowledge or general concerns about technology. The purpose of this study is to analyze differences in the ways that men and women scientists perceive nuclear risk. Methods. This article examines the risk attitudes and perceptions of a large mail survey sample of men and women scientists. The sample consists of randomly selected members of the biological and physical science sections of the American Association for the Advancement of Science who reside in Colorado and New Mexico. Results. Men scientists tend to see substantially less risk from nuclear technologies than do women scientists, but this difference is not a manifestation of different levels of scientific training or attitudes toward nature, technology, and normative aspects of risk. Gender differences and field of research have an additive effect on risk perceptions, with women scientists and life scientists perceiving greater risks.

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  • The Usefulness of Risk Assessment to Decision Makers
    In: Technology: Journal of the Franklin Institute
    Date: 1996

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  • New public infrastructures for small firm industrial modernization in the USA
    In: Entrepreneurship and Regional Development [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: 1995
    There has been increasing concern in the United States about lagging industrial modernization, especially amongst the nation’s small and midsized manufacturers with 500 or fewer employees. This has prompted a series of new technological infrastructure initiatives by federal and state governments, academic and industry organizations, and other groups. New legislation, policies and programmes have been established to promote industrial competitiveness and modernization for small and midsized firms. After considering the dimensions of the industrial modernization problem, the paper examines US federal and state technological infrastructural interventions aimed at promoting industrial modernization. These include industry and technology centres, industrial extension and technology deployment programmes, industry consortia and networking, and support for conversion from defence to civilian technologies and markets. The paper considers insights and best practices from the US experience with these programmes and discusses issues and policy questions that remain to be addressed. © 1995 Taylor and Francis Ltd.

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  • Politics and scientific expertise: Scientists, risk perception, and nuclear waste policy
    In: Risk Analysis [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: December 1993
    To study the homogeneity and influences on scientists' perspectives of environmental risks, we have examined similarities and differences in risk perceptions, particularly regarding nuclear wastes, and policy preferences among 1011 scientists and engineers. We found significant differences (p < 0.05) in the patterns of beliefs among scientists from different fields of research. In contrast to physicists, chemists, and engineers, life scientists tend to: (a) perceive the greatest risks from nuclear energy and nuclear waste management; (b) perceive higher levels of overall environmental risk; (c) strongly oppose imposing risks on unconsenting individuals; and (d) prefer stronger requirements for environmental management. On some issues related to priorities among public problems and calls for government action, there are significant variations among life scientists or physical scientists. We also found that-independently of field of research- perceptions of risk and its correlates are significantly associated with the type of institution in which the scientist is employed. Scientists in universities or state and local governments tend to see the risks of nuclear energy and wastes as greater than scientists who work as business consultants, for federal organizations, or for private research laboratories. Significant differences also are found in priority given to environmental risks, the perceived proximity of environmental disaster, willingness to impose risks on an unconsenting population, and the necessity of accepting risks and sacrifices.

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  • Sustainable Growth as a Moral Obligation
  • Regulation and cooperation among firms in technical Standard-Setting
    In: Journal of Behavioral Economics [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: 1986

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  • Policy learning and the evolution of federal hazardous waste policy
  • A political theory of regulation with some observations on railway abandonments
  • Trust, the Economy, and Environmental Risk: An Exploratory Study of Risk Perceptions in Bourgas, Bulgaria.



Working Papers

Thesis / Dissertations