The disputes over nuclear energy, Stuttgart 21 (rebuilding of Stuttgart’s main station to an underground through station), radioactive waste, green genetic engineering and nanotechnology show that innovative technology developments are increasingly ex-posed to an “acceptance test” in the public. This test may delay or even prevent a development, but it may also indicate possible failures and induce corrective measures.

Fusion technology to generate electricity has being developed for several decades, but a commercial breakthrough is to be expected only in another few decades. However, it is already controversial whether the high investment required for further R&D work is justified or not.

On behalf of the Max Planck Institute DIALOGIK conducted four focus group exercises with lay persons, students with background in technology and journalists.

It aimed at the perception of fusion power among various target groups. In total, 41 people participated in the four focus groups. They discussed in depth their opinion, pros and cons of the energy source compared to others, information and participation needs.

The study shall also identify emerging patterns of perception and develop on this basis the main features of an effective risk communication program.

On the basis of the research results the project team produced a plan showing how to carry out dialogues constructively and effectively in the future. The plan comprise possible ways to include communication and information services in future processes of fusion energy development as well as methods and procedures for implementing this inclusion communicatively in an effective and efficient manner.

This presentation will first focus on the conduction of the focus groups and the opinions of the participants. Second, the author will show how to carry out dialogues of fusion energy development constructively and effectively in the future.

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Focusgroup exercises
Perception of fusion power among journalists, students and citizens

Jörg Hilpert   Dialogik non-profit institute for communication and cooperation research

Ludger Benighaus   Dialogik non-profit institute for communication and cooperation research

Oliver Scheel   Dialogik non-profit institute for communication and cooperation research

The disputes over nuclear energy, Stuttgart 21 (rebuilding of Stuttgart’s main station to an underground through station), radioactive waste, green genetic engineering and nanotechnology show that innovative technology developments are increasingly ex-posed to an “acceptance test” in the public. This test may delay or even prevent a development, but it may also indicate possible failures and induce corrective measures.

Fusion technology to generate electricity has being developed for several decades, but a commercial breakthrough is to be expected only in another few decades. However, it is already controversial whether the high investment required for further R&D work is justified or not.

On behalf of the Max Planck Institute DIALOGIK conducted four focus group exercises with lay persons, students with background in technology and journalists.

It aimed at the perception of fusion power among various target groups. In total, 41 people participated in the four focus groups. They discussed in depth their opinion, pros and cons of the energy source compared to others, information and participation needs.

The study shall also identify emerging patterns of perception and develop on this basis the main features of an effective risk communication program.

On the basis of the research results the project team produced a plan showing how to carry out dialogues constructively and effectively in the future. The plan comprise possible ways to include communication and information services in future processes of fusion energy development as well as methods and procedures for implementing this inclusion communicatively in an effective and efficient manner.

This presentation will first focus on the conduction of the focus groups and the opinions of the participants. Second, the author will show how to carry out dialogues of fusion energy development constructively and effectively in the future.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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