PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


“What question would you want science to answer?
” - A Dutch experiment in involving audiences in formulating a National Research Agenda

Alex Verkade  

Science benefits from an active public dialogue about the opportunities and risks of groundbreaking developments. In 2015, Dutch citizens were invited to provide input for the creation of a National Research Agenda. In the first half of 2015 everybody could submit their question to science. Over 11.000 questions were submitted. These questions were used as a starting point for the dialogue that results in the new National Research Agenda in November 2015. The Dutch National Research Agenda project is an example of Responsible Research and Innovation - it is also an interesting case for science communicators. The submitted questions, for instance, can teach us many things: which big issues submitters care about; what they understand or expect from science; and which subjects they would want to know more about. But: who are these submitters? Who helps determine the future of science? And who doesn't? In this Dutch case, younger people don't. The submitter population skews heavily towards men over the age of 40. We think this is a missed opportunity. Therefore TechYourFuture and De Praktijk, together with science center NEMO, the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Education have started a project to bring the National Research Agenda to high schools. The project will have yielded its first results by the time the PCST conference takes place. In this workshop, we will present and review the case of the National Research Agenda from a science communication viewpoint. We will actively involve the audience in discussing questions like: How can we use such a project to communicate science? How can we, as science communicators, help involve a representative sample of society? The National Research Agenda project was initiated to formulate an agenda for scientific research - but could it also help set the agenda for science communication?

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