In order to avoid costly and emotional clashes between stakeholders in innovative fields of  technology (nuclear energy, cloning, GMO crops) many scholars blame the knowledge divide   between scientists,  politicians  and society and therefore advocate a cautious (network)   approach to synchronize knowledge levels  among all stakeholders. The proposed solutions are described under various headings like “interactive science communication”, “Interactive policy”and  “New Modes of Governance”. However, hardly any examples of good practices are presented yet.  This paper describes an actual case which involves citizens in policy making on the issue of biotech food in The Netherlands by applying a bottom up methodology. The approach is unique in the  sense that it sandwiches classical tools for policy analysis  (analysis   of  policy documents,  interviews  of experts, relational problem analysis) with participative tools (citizens’ panels, focus  groups, Socratic dialogues, stakeholder workshops) resulting in a so called “constructed societal agenda”. This societal agenda reflects he interrelated complexity of the different positions  taken by stakeholders and at the same time it is a frame of reference to enable communication between stakeholders with opposed views as they can recognize their own position in relation to others.  Common grounds are used in the final steps to shift various dead ended one-way discourses by  stakeholders with a specific interest (scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians) towards constructive  dialogues to proceed with technological innovations in a mutual acceptable way. Citizens views and experiences are equally matched with expert views and experiences. The constructed societal agenda offers in addition a framework for successive monitoring and evaluation studies.  Due to this transparent frame of mutual understanding, the two-sided approach in PCST will commit the parties for the future and thus empowering the public (and other stakeholders) to an open and trustful communication.

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 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

A two sided communication approach for science and technology policy research
The case biotechnolog y & food in the netherland

Joske Bunders   Athena Institute,Vrije Universiteit,Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tjardde Cock Buning   Athena Institute,Vrije Universiteit,Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In order to avoid costly and emotional clashes between stakeholders in innovative fields of  technology (nuclear energy, cloning, GMO crops) many scholars blame the knowledge divide   between scientists,  politicians  and society and therefore advocate a cautious (network)   approach to synchronize knowledge levels  among all stakeholders. The proposed solutions are described under various headings like “interactive science communication”, “Interactive policy”and  “New Modes of Governance”. However, hardly any examples of good practices are presented yet.  This paper describes an actual case which involves citizens in policy making on the issue of biotech food in The Netherlands by applying a bottom up methodology. The approach is unique in the  sense that it sandwiches classical tools for policy analysis  (analysis   of  policy documents,  interviews  of experts, relational problem analysis) with participative tools (citizens’ panels, focus  groups, Socratic dialogues, stakeholder workshops) resulting in a so called “constructed societal agenda”. This societal agenda reflects he interrelated complexity of the different positions  taken by stakeholders and at the same time it is a frame of reference to enable communication between stakeholders with opposed views as they can recognize their own position in relation to others.  Common grounds are used in the final steps to shift various dead ended one-way discourses by  stakeholders with a specific interest (scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians) towards constructive  dialogues to proceed with technological innovations in a mutual acceptable way. Citizens views and experiences are equally matched with expert views and experiences. The constructed societal agenda offers in addition a framework for successive monitoring and evaluation studies.  Due to this transparent frame of mutual understanding, the two-sided approach in PCST will commit the parties for the future and thus empowering the public (and other stakeholders) to an open and trustful communication.

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