Willem Halffman studied social and political sciences in Antwerp, sociology at the Free University of Brussels and at Columbia University, New York, with specialisation in sociology of science. In the nineties, he worked at the former Department of Science and Technology Dynamics at the University of Amsterdam, where he cooperated on various advisory projects on environmental hazards and the use of insights of science and technology studies in policy making. There he also wrote a dissertation about the development of ecotoxicological knowledge for the regulation of environmental hazards of chemical substances in the Netherlands, England and the US. The dissertation was defended cum laude at the University of Amsterdam in March 2003. Afterwards, he worked as a postdoc at Twente and the University of Amsterdam. Since 2008, he is lecturer in policy sciences at the department of Science, Technology, Health and Policy Studies (STEHPS) at Twente University and one of the co-ordinators of the Phd training programme of the Dutch Graduate Research School of Science, Technology, and Modern Culture.
His main research interests involve the problems and tensions that arise when (scientific) experts advise policy makers. This includes: the organization of the science/policy boundary, patterns of exclusion of knowledge, or ramifications for the democratic quality of decision making. He has studied experts in their advisory activities to public policy in a variety of domains, including environmental hazards of chemicals, nature conservation, regional planning, and fisheries. He is interested in how boundaries around expertise are negotiated and institutionalised, including especially in relation to competing fields of expertise, lay and local knowledge, or experts and their clients among policy makers. Specific recent research topics include the involvement of NGOs in environmental research and 'amateur' science.
- Personal website (http://halffman.net/)