714   Roundtable discussion

Current transformations in the science-society relationship: learnings from practices

Science-society relationships are continuously changing and transforming. In the current transformations of the science-society relationship, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has become a key concept within and outside Europe. Recently also Engaged Research and Open Science have become important concepts. However, when meeting the needs of society, as is proposed by RRI and other notions, what implications does it bring in practice? What kind of science-society relationship is desired and needed to tackle current societal challenges? And, most importantly for the PCST community, what does that mean for communication processes, roles of researchers and research institutes?

In this round table discussion, we will bring in lessons learned from projects that addressed different aspects of the science-society relationship and include practical and theoretical transformations. We will discuss how learnings from each project help to understand the current changes in science-society relationships and, together with the participants, we will collect and discuss practical recommendations for communicating science, and new roles for researchers and research institutes. All contributions will show challenges as well as opportunities of the relationships’ transformations.

The round table management:

A short introduction sets the scene, where upon pitches reflect key learnings from the projects. The main part will be dedicated to discussing in groups different science-society practices and collecting advice for future science communication as well as for roles for researchers and research institutes, which will be reflected on at the end. 

In NUCLEUS, responsible relationships with society were explored in e.g. China and South Africa, and learnings for researchers and research institutes were tested in multiple institutes. In GoNano, practical experiences about building longer-term relationships with citizens and other stakeholders around nanotechnology applications were collected via co-creation, while RRING is extending the reach of co-creation in institutional processes by linking RRI with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Author: Anne Dijkstra
University of Twente, Netherlands, Netherlands

In China social responsibility is key to the science-society relationship. Science popularization is seen as a means to enhance scientific literacy. While innovation is seen as necessary to stimulate the economy, science communication efforts are means to stimulate that science-society relationship. In this contribution NUCLEUS' findings from China are presented in which practices of responsible innovation were studied. How these practices transform to future science communication and the role for researchers will be discussed.

Speaker: Penny Haworth
Manager Communications, NRF, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, South Africa

This contribution will discuss how participation in NUCLEUS helped a research institute as SAIAB, and its researchers to look inward and assess the extent to which research is "engaged" and how steps were taken towards integrating RRI and Engaged Research into strategic thinking in the context of South Africa. Through such mechanisms, the importance of communicating and sharing science with society has been recognised and is especially relevant in South Africa. However, smarter strategies to unravel science-society transformations are needed. The discussion will involve exploring current and future roles for researchers and research institutes.

Speaker: Lenka Hebakova
Manager research projects, Technology Centre CAS, Czech Republic

In this contribution results from four steps in a co-creation process with stakeholders (from research, CSO, business, media and policy) as well as with citizens in the Czech Republic on nano in food will be discussed. This co-creation process was organised as part of the GoNano project. Results show that in the Czech Republic, where the public engagement processes have only recently started to be increasingly used for knowledge-based policy making, creative inputs from citizens can bring fruitful thoughts to debates of experts and stakeholders on nano in food and transform science-society relationships. It seems valid that co-creation can be a relevant tool for considering specific suggestions of citizens in the development and implementation of nanotechnologies and in that way, co-creation can help transform science-society relationships.

Speaker: Sikke Jansma
PhD student University of Twente, Netherlands

This talk will illuminate citizen engagement in the transition towards sustainable heating in the Netherlands. In order to reduce CO2-emissions, millions of households in the Netherlands will have to disconnect from the gas grid. This is a major challenge and the transition is being executed on a local level. Governments struggle how to engage citizens and motivate them into action. Our findings show that citizens of different neighbourhoods are concerned about the environment, but have doubts about the feasibility and costs of the transition. Additionally, they have little trust in the local government's capabilities for managing the transition, and fear for a top-down, non-transparent process. We will discuss how this transforms relationships between government and citizens.

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