The public, health research and democracy @SDenegri
There’s more light than Nordic noir in this Swedish statement on citizens in research (why don’t we talk about mobilising citizens?)
So, to cut a long story short, the European Union (sigh) is developing its next framework programme for research and innovation (R&I) ( to be known as FP9). Cue lots of consultations and papers being submitted on what FP9 should look like. I was taken with this statement in one such submission sent to me by The Swedish Advocacy Platform which consists of some 50 Swedish organisations and individual researchers involved in the field of science and society, and gathers Swedish expertise in the area. It states that its aim is to ‘ increase Swedish participation in the ‘Science with and for Society’ (SwafS) programme, increase awareness of SwafS related dimensions in the R&I process, and to increase the RRI embedding in Horizon 2020 and FP9.’
The Section is headed ‘Engaging, Involving and Mobilising Society and Citizens.’
The Open Science agenda cherishes both enhanced accessibility to results and publica- tions, and a porous interface between science and society at large. e research and innovation community needs to understand, value and strive for a mutual exchange with non- academic actors and audiences.
FP9 should ultimately deepen our knowledge and under- standing of processes and transdisciplinary activities that bridge science, the research community, stakeholders and the general public. It should also invest in lowering the thresholds for participation and in creating incentives for a fruitful exchange between sectors. e active involvement of societal ac- tors in co-designing and co-creating research and innovation would foster research excel- lence, promote the impact of investments in science, and help to build public understanding and trust in science.
In policy discussions, there is much emphasis on taking in the perspective of the citizens, involving and collaborating with them – and reference is being made to a growing divide between the public and decision- makers. From our perspective, the science- society relationship needs to be further strengthened. Mainstreaming RRI in FP9 should help in this respect. However, there must also be a dedicated programme – with its own budget line – for research on these issues, just like the current Science with and for Society programme. Such a programme would help us to increase our knowledge of how citizens understand, react to, interact with and sometimes reject scienti c knowl- edge. Indeed, there are many actors already involved in Horizon 2020 that can contribute to the design of the science-society interface, and ongoing projects under the SwafS pro- gramme which target involvement of societal stakeholders should be drawn upon in the development of FP9.
One way, among many, to achieve a true involvement of citizens is through citizen science, which is, quite rightly, high on the EU research policy agenda at present. It is important not to equate citizen science with public engagement (public engagement be- ing broader), but citizen science o ers huge potential to engage individual citizens in the co-design and co-creation of research. e Platform strongly favours a multi-layered conception of citizen science that goes be- yond pure data-collection and fully captures the di erent functions that citizen science can have3, i.e. contributory science, participa- tory science and extreme science.