Published on May 6, 2016

Science, Society and Engagement – an e-anthology

Citizens & science Engage2020

By Simon Burall

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

network-1019778_1920Science, Society and Engagement is an e-anthology published by Involve to capture learning from the Engage2020[i] project on public engagement in research and technological innovation across Europe.

There is a growing acceptance worldwide that engaging citizens in dialogue about issues that affect them improves the quality, legitimacy and sustainability of policy and decision making.  In response policy makers, academics, civil society groups and public authorities are increasingly looking to involve the public in addressing some of the grand challenges of our time – from climate change to tightening supplies of energy, water and food, to balancing individual freedoms with international security concerns. Tackling these matters will undoubtedly require new scientific and technical innovations, advances that will potentially have profound ethical, social and practical implications for individuals, communities and nations. In this context developing systems that can bring the differing perspectives, views and values of the public into these debates becomes even more important than ever.

This e-anthology sets out to provide an introduction to the theory and practice of effective engagement around scientific research and technological innovation. Aiming to foster the spread of good practice across Europe it includes:

  • Practical examples of why, when and how to engage the public and other civil society stakeholders in discussions around complicated and controversial policies and innovations;
  • Brief descriptions of different engagement tools;
  • Case studies highlight best practice in engagement around some of the 7 Grand Challenges the European Commission has identified for 2020;
  • Short articles from researchers, practitioners, academics and policy makers sharing their experience and expertise on the value and effectiveness of public engagement.

The Science, Society and Engagement multimedia e-book can be downloaded here and you can find out more about the Engage2020 project at


[i] Engage2020, funded (FP7) by the European Commission (DG Research and Innovation), brought together 7 international research partners, including Involve, to explore how members of the public have been engaged in science policy and research across Europe to date and how this involvement could be enhanced in the future.

Image credit: Peggy_Marco CC0 Public Domain

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