Published on March 9, 2012

Sciencewise-ERC programme announced

Sciencewise

By Simon Burall

Simon Burall is the Director of Involve. He has extensive experience in the fields of democratic reform, governance, public participation, stakeholder engagement, and accountability and transparency.

Involve will be joining forces with the British Science Association and Ricardo-AEA to deliver the next three year phase of the Sciencewise-ERC programme.

We’re really excited today to be able to announce that we’ll be joining Ricardo-AEA and the British Science Association in delivering the next three year phase of the Sciencewise-ERC programme. The Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy will also be playing a supporting role. Fittingly, the contract has just been announced on the first day of this year’s Science and Engineering week. Vince Cable today posted on the BIS blog:

“Today, I was able to announce the next phase of the programme with the awarding of a £3.6m three-year contract for its management. The contract was awarded to Ricardo-AEA, in partnership with the British Science Association and Involve – an exciting new collaboration.  There are some interesting changes – including a Citizens group, which will involve members of the public in developing and implementing new projects and a Business Insight Group to look at ways in which engagement with business can be incorporated into the Sciencewise process.  Both David Willetts and I look forward to seeing the impact of these new developments.”

We’re thrilled to be part of a programme which is internationally recognised as being at the forefront of government-run public dialogue on science. Sciencewise-ERC is funded by BIS to provide advice and funding to support Government departments to commission and run public dialogue activities in science and technology.

In its short life it has already been very successful at raising awareness among scientists and policymakers about the value of public dialogue. The next phase will continue to build on this solid foundation, while maintaining a strong focus on funding, delivering and supporting dialogue projects as the best way to demonstrate its value to all involved. Given the changing relationships between citizen and state and the pace of scientific development, innovative dialogue practices and pioneering projects will also need to be fostered and developed.

Involve have worked closely with Sciencewise-ERC on a number of exciting projects over recent years. Joining the Sciencewise-ERC team in delivering the core programme, however, will allow us to really focus on embedding participation and dialogue in government. This is at the heart of Involve’s charitable mission and core to much of what we do across our existing programmes of work.

Involve’s energies will be focussed in the areas of thought leadership and embedding dialogue across government. (Given the potential conflict of interest, we won’t be delivering dialogue projects ourselves).

Working with BIS, and alongside Ricardo-AEA and the British Science Association, we will be responsible for the strategic direction of the Sciencewise programme. We will also be delivering a number of areas of work for Sciencewise, these include:

  • Thought leadership and research. We’ll be delivering a variety of thought leadership pieces and research  which highlight to policymakers the value of dialogue and the innovations and practice in the field.
  • Creating a Community of Dialogue Practice. Involve believes that networking, sharing ideas and creating spaces for mutual learning will be essential in embedding dialogue in government and creating the culture change necessary for such a shift. There are a growing number of people within government who instinctively understand the value of dialogue. The Community of Practice aims to bring these people together, creating a vibrant space where people can access resources, learn from each other and provide mutual support.
  • Delivering training and mentoring. Involve will continue Sciencewise-ERC’s work delivering training and mentoring to those across government who want to understand and deliver dialogue and participation.
  • Creating a Citizens’ Group. Sciencewise-ERC is committed not only to engaging citizens in the development of government policy related to science and technology, but also in involving citizens in the governance of government programmes. A pioneering Citizens’ Group will enable Sciencewise-ERC to engage in direct discussion with members of the public about the design of the programme, its priorities and implementation. Two members of the Group will also sit on the Sciencewise-ERC Steering Group.

Although Sciencewise-ERC’s focus is science and technology (a topic personally close to my heart as a science graduate), many of the principles of dialogue and participation can be applied across government. We’re looking forward to taking the learning from the Sciencewise-ERC programme and using this to strengthen the support and advice that we provide to other government department bodies, both local and national.

We can’t wait to start work.

4 Responses to “Sciencewise-ERC programme announced”

  1. Robbie Feller
    March 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    This is a great article Simon, looking forward to seeing if this programme will be a success. I am highly interested by “Thought Leadership” as I feel this is the way forward for certain businesses with engagement. I mean, there are even big companies embracing this tool such as Vodafone as seen here – http://www.vodafone.co.uk/business/perspective/ So it would be interesting to see other companies deciding on whether to take it up as well. I look forward to hearing more.

    Robbie

Leave a Reply