Researchers at School of Psychology, University of Surrey, have organised a second panel of citizens randomly recruited to debate and discuss public engagement in science, in particular in three broad topic areas: Food and Health, Nanotechnology and Synthetic Biology.
The panels are part of a series of events run under the auspices of an EU funded project PROSO (Promoting Societal Engagement in Research and Innovation, http://www.proso-project.eu/), and organised across 5 countries: the UK, Portugal, Germany, Bulgaria and Austria. These events gather citizens to discuss and debate motivation to take part in the decisions about the future of science.
The first citizens’ panels were run in October 2016, and asked the citizens to indicate their preferences for participating in science café, citizens dialogue or citizens evaluation board. The citizens were randomly allocated to one of three groups: the Nano group, the Synthetic Biology and the Food and Health group. The cross-national comparison of the results identified differences in people’s preferences for format based on the topic (food and health, nanotechnology and synthetic biology). Overall, deeper engagement formats such as citizens dialogues and citizens evaluation board were preferred across the countries.
Following these, experts on the issues of public engagement were invited to comment on the citizens’ expressed preferences in an expert workshop (December 2016), during which, a number of challenges for the future of engagement were identified.
A series of second citizens’ panels (January-February 2017) will ask the same group of citizens to reflect on these challenges and to come up with policy options which will be fed back to the policy makers (European Commission), non-governmental and third sector organisations and scientists at the PROSO Feedback and Impulse Conference in Brussels. A final policy and practice guide will be developed for the consideration of the European policy makers about what actions to take to enhance responsible research and innovation.
Special thanks to Dr Naomi Klepacz, Dr Charo Hodgkins, Zoe Clothier and Emilee Rapley for their help with the running of the events.