Apr 24, 2015 | Atlanta, GA
Richard Barke is an associate professor in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech. Recently, the Office of Faculty Affairs had the opportunity to learn more about Barke and his time at Tech. Here’s what he said.
Tell us a little about your research.
My undergraduate work at Georgia Tech was in physics and geophysics. Working in a lab, I became interested in the way that scientific knowledge is used, or sometimes misused or ignored, in policy-making, and in the way that political negotiations (including in the lab) can shape science. Much of my work has been about how risk analysis is conducted and used in policy-making, especially when decision makers know that they don’t know enough about an emerging technology to make well-founded decisions. Currently, I’m writing a book about the pragmatic, legal, and ethical challenges in making policies intended to address issues that stretch over decades.
What made you decide to work at Georgia Tech?
I published a book called Science, Technology, and Public Policy, and a few months later Georgia Tech advertised for a faculty member specializing in "science, technology, and public policy!" Being here offered far more flexibility for doing interdisciplinary research than many other universities. It is a place where people in nonengineering fields cannot be complacent because there are always new questions to be pursued. Also, I grew up in Atlanta and was happier about raising our daughter here than in many other places. So, I’ve been here since 1987.
What are the top three reasons you’d recommend Georgia Tech to other faculty?
Interdisciplinary research freedom. Excellent colleagues. Amazing students.
What are a few things every faculty member should do while at Georgia Tech?
Have lunch or coffee with some of your undergraduate students, and let them do most of the talking. Attend a football game even if you don’t care for football or intercollegiate sports — it’s a cultural experience. Learn some Georgia and Atlanta history and explore Georgia outside of Atlanta. Slow down and have some relaxed conversations with some real Southern rural people. They probably aren’t entirely how you’d expect them to be.