Public Engagement in Science in European Context

Saturday, February 13, 2016: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Hoover (Marriott Wardman Park)
Peter Tindemans, EuroScience, Strasbourg, France
As far as Research and Innovation are concerned, Europe consists of the EU (with its Horizon 2020 funding programme), the 28 EU member states, several associated countries, and yet others, including Russia. For public engagement it is perhaps even more important to not forget about the countries as science institutions (funding agencies, research performing institutions; one example: the major German funding and performing organisations have created “Wissenschaft im Dialog” to jointly tackle public engagement) are national, measures to integrate public engagement criteria in funding mechanisms must be implemented nationally, and also because it is easier to get a representative and relatively coherent group of participants from the public. Of course, issues such as gene editing (CRISPR) require a consensus at European, even global level but without anchoring such approaches nationally, their impact will be minimal.

Yet, a flurry of activities at EU level is coming up mostly centred around Responsible Research and Innovation.  And the EuroScience Open Forum ESOF has become a major European event for debating public engagement with science and innovation among scientists, policymakers, business, media and even, in the form of Science in the City the general public, the latter drawing in Copenhagen 2014 40,000 visitors.

The presentation will not focus on communication and dissemination, but rather on more active, more interactive ways of engaging the public in the form of public dialogues, joint shaping of research directions, citizen science, or influencing scientists’ attitudes.

Examples will be presented from the UK (the Concordat between the largest funding agencies for Engaging the Public with Science, and its inclusion in the criteria for funding allocations), Germany (Wissenschaft im Dialog), Denmark (Consensus Conferences), the Netherlands (the Science Agenda based on open submissions by everyone interested, Science Shops), and others.

Though conceptually Responsible Research and Innovation as well as another buzz word: Open Science) when it should apply to all research and innovation supported by EU funds, it has the potential to inspire researchers, innovators, citizen groups, local authorities and many others who want to benefit from research and innovation but feel left out in the process of creating them. Also here, some examples in an RRI Toolkit, soon to go public for tests, will be shown.