From the mid-1980ies onwards many European member states started–although with very different intensity and developing diverse approaches–to put in place programmes and activities addressing science and society issues. Ranging from new forms and formats of science communication, over more interactive and dialogue oriented settings to public participation exercises, in each national context specific, culturally grounded sets of initiatives were developed. In this patchwork of diverse national science and society initiatives, the European Union entered the scene by the late 1990s as an important player. Since then the European Commission has been carrying out substantive survey research on science and society in Europe, has launched and supported numerous programmes funding research and actions in the domain of science and society, has issued numerous reports and policy statements, created science communication awards and many more. Through these activities the European Commission was aiming at supporting the formation and stabilization of Europe as a research area, as well as at creating favorable conditions for making Europe a competitive knowledge economy.

This paper aims at analyzing these European policies concerning science/society interactions over the nearly two decades. It will explore questions such as: How were these interactions between science and society imagined? Which forms and formats did they take? How were they discursively framed? What were the different expectations of the actors involved? And how did all this tie into different models of a future European knowledge society in a global context? Main issues discussed will also cover the changing visions of who would be these “European publics” to be addressed, of why people should understand technoscience, of who is supposed to communicate and actually what should be understood about science. Yet more importantly the question of how these framings of the “science and society problem” changed during the last decades, e.g. from understanding to awareness to engagement, how that impacts on the ways technoscience is integrated into contemporary societies and what future challenges are waiting in this domain will be critically addressed. The empirical basis of this paper will an extensive study of policy documents, programmes and action lines, evaluation reports and many more.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Communicating science–making Europe
A critical analysis of two decades of European commission’s science-society policy

Felt Ulrike   University of Vienna

From the mid-1980ies onwards many European member states started–although with very different intensity and developing diverse approaches–to put in place programmes and activities addressing science and society issues. Ranging from new forms and formats of science communication, over more interactive and dialogue oriented settings to public participation exercises, in each national context specific, culturally grounded sets of initiatives were developed. In this patchwork of diverse national science and society initiatives, the European Union entered the scene by the late 1990s as an important player. Since then the European Commission has been carrying out substantive survey research on science and society in Europe, has launched and supported numerous programmes funding research and actions in the domain of science and society, has issued numerous reports and policy statements, created science communication awards and many more. Through these activities the European Commission was aiming at supporting the formation and stabilization of Europe as a research area, as well as at creating favorable conditions for making Europe a competitive knowledge economy.

This paper aims at analyzing these European policies concerning science/society interactions over the nearly two decades. It will explore questions such as: How were these interactions between science and society imagined? Which forms and formats did they take? How were they discursively framed? What were the different expectations of the actors involved? And how did all this tie into different models of a future European knowledge society in a global context? Main issues discussed will also cover the changing visions of who would be these “European publics” to be addressed, of why people should understand technoscience, of who is supposed to communicate and actually what should be understood about science. Yet more importantly the question of how these framings of the “science and society problem” changed during the last decades, e.g. from understanding to awareness to engagement, how that impacts on the ways technoscience is integrated into contemporary societies and what future challenges are waiting in this domain will be critically addressed. The empirical basis of this paper will an extensive study of policy documents, programmes and action lines, evaluation reports and many more.

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

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