“Hearing and Being Heard”

A very interesting report was published during the summer holidays!  Sciencewise commissioned Ipsos MORI to carry out research into the public’s views of emerging areas of policy involving science and technology. 30 issues were identified through a process of consultation with experts involved in policy making and science and technology at a workshop run by the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy.

Participants of the workshops created a grid showing how important they thought each issue was, relative to others. On the vertical axis, they showed how high a priority they thought each issue should be for the UK government, and on the horizontal axis they showed how high a priority it should be for the public to have involvement in policy-making related to the issue.


In the report each of the 30 issues was analysed but what I found most interesting was the concluding section which included the following:

The way the public responded to the issues we showed them highlights some of the challenges for engaging the public with emergent science and technology issues. Sciencewise and others should now consider how to address these issues.

    • How to deal with multi-stakeholder, multi-layered issues? We know the public are interested in learning about the more complex issues that do not sit with only one department or policy stream; government stakeholders should work beyond internal silos to engage the public in shared dialogue processes.
    • Issues in dialogue must be framed so they are relevant to the public but without oversimplifying. This project, like others, underlines the need for stimulus and framing materials which enhance specificity, urgency, relevance to individuals in the UK as well as educating participants about risk and uncertainty. It may be a challenge to deal with the issues which are high risk and far off – is there a role for more explicit horizon scanning and scenario planning exercises within public dialogue?
    • Dialogues about how to engage the public with risk and uncertainty. Can we find out more about how people want to engage with ‘wicked’ problems? Some issues contain a “lack of consensus on fundamental facts or judgements” – what would a public, educated about this phenomenon, say about the issues?
    • Dialogues about how values are formed. We need to find out more about underlying tensions in dialogue, for example the range of views on individual rights vs collective responsibilities. A dialogue on the underlying issue of personal freedoms versus responsibilities, as this relates to science, taking in a range of different scientific or technological advances as stimulus, might be fruitful. Can we find out how the public feel these values should bear on decision making in science?
    • Different engagement for different times in the policy cycle. Do we need engagement on how policy is to be implemented (‘Keeping the lights on’)? Or on the moral and ethical level about the principles which should drive policy – (‘Rising costs of healthcare’)? Dialogue should take place at the point where participants can see it their input will have a certain effect.
    • Tackling cynicism. In this dialogue participants emphasised that their involvement was conditional on it making a difference to policy; but they did not really believe such difference would happen. The differences dialogue can make are subtle, nuanced and long-term but policymakers need to communicate what the dialogue achieved. Also, participants were keen to know that their view would not be ‘outweighed’ in the decision process by voices of vested interests. Those running dialogues should explain how the views of the public are balanced with the views of other stakeholders in decision making.

links to some interesting posts about the bottom half of the internet:

gif comments
Commenting threads: good, bad, or not at all. by Bora Zivkovic | January 28, 2013

Science, New Media, and the Public by Dominique Brossard and Dietram A. Scheufele | January 4, 2013

This Story Stinks by DOMINIQUE BROSSARD and DIETRAM A. SCHEUFELE |  March 2, 2013

The bottom half of the internet: The counter-attack to the war on online comments by Hannah R Waldram |  February 23, 2013

European Intersectoral Summit on #Research and #Innovation: full set of tweets #EISRI #sciencemedia

European Intersectoral Summit on #Research and #Innovation: full set of tweets #EISRI #sciencemedia

“The European Intersectoral Summit on Research and Innovation is a European meeting organised by the Atomium Culture every eighteen months dedicated to research and innovation. It is designed to create a unique opportunity for intersectoral and interdisciplinary discussions between leading stakeholders to:

  • Define the role of research and innovation in the development of a strong and competitive knowledge society;
  • Discuss the relationship between science and society;
  • Come up with concrete recommendations on what has to be done in the short terms at a European level to reach the long term objectives;
  • Brainstorm and discuss concrete activities that the institutions engaged in the Permanent Platform of AC can develop to support this process from the bottom-up.

Under the auspices of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Permanent Platform of AC is holding the second edition of the European Intersectoral Summit on Research and Innovation on the 25-26 February 2013. The Summit is organised with the participation of the Irish Ministry for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Trinity College Dublin and the Irish Times.

The EISRI 2013 edition focusses on the influence of communication and media on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and is designed to create a unique opportunity for intersectoral and interdisciplinary discussions.

The conference brings together leaders and key representatives of research institutions, businesses, media, NGOs, policy makers and professional science communicators to discuss and reflect on the relationship between science and society.

EISRI II presents high-level speakers including former heads of state and key representatives of the European institutions and national governments as well as leaders from leading research institutions, businesses and media. The dedicated workshops are designed to reflect the key issues in this area and to promote “out of the box” thinking and participatory processes.

The conference is being held at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, from February 25 to February 26 2013.”

Young Europeans Discuss Sustainable Development

I have been absent from this blog because I have been organising the Young Europeans Discuss Sustainable Development from the point of view of science and technology event:
Young Europeans Discuss Sustainable Development
9-14 of May 2011

Advances in Science and Technology directly affectyour life, and you should have an opinion!
28 Young Europeans (18-24 years old) from 13 EU countries, will be discussing with Greek scientists about6 different aspects of Sustainable development.
Meet the 23 scientists that will talk at the event! They work at almost all of the big Greek universities and research centres!
Learn about the issues that will be discussed:
Climate Change, Energy, Innovation, Water and Food, Biodiversity, Public Health
Chat with other people!
Check out what will be happening during that week!
Find out about the participants!
Watch online, ask questions for the scientists to answer, vote!
The event language is English.
Please forward this to your members and whoever you think might be interested.
For more information do not hesitate to contact us at yedsda@gmail.com
Dr Ino Agrafioti

QUESTION #1 Who is the "public" we are trying to engage?

I found a site called bigassmessage.com which enables you to write big messages such as this.

I thought of making an image myself. I thought this image should of a quote related to the issues of this blog. But I could not think of a quote out of the top of head.

So I then thought that is should make an image of a question instead. And I wrote the question that has recently been bugging me the most:


Yes, yes, I know that many people have asked this before – especially in marketing, advertising etc. One day I would like to talk about the fact that the more I read things for this blog, the more I realise that advertising and science communication use a LOT of the same tools. And some principles as well.

I have not typed the question into google to find out what comes up. The purpose of this post was to use the website bigassmessage.com afterall…

Science Communication: one really needs those presentation skills!

Today I visited the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron Moussikis) to attend a talk by Marcus de Sautoy (website1, website2). I found out about it the last moment through twitter (twitter gets more and more useful everyday!!!).

Bioinformatics, Systems Biology, Synthetic Biology: new paradigms or changes in fashion?

[This is an article I wrote for a major Greek newspaper “VIΜΑ” which was published on the 5th of February 2010. There is going to be a small Greek twist to this blog as well. First the article – loosely translated by me – in English and then the original in Greek.]

In just one decade in the science of biology three “new” areas were “created”. In 2000 everyone thought that Bioinformatics is the future of biology. After the final sequence of the human genome, three years later, everyone was talking about Systems biology.Today, at the end of this decade, the focus is Synthetic Biology. It is therefore perfectly reasonable to wonder if these areas are indeed new, if a new paradigm is being created. Is the science of biology changing with with unprecedented high rates or do scientists give to their research the newest, and therefore most attractive name in order to increase their opportunities of getting funding?

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