First Italian Forum on “Science and Society”

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Within the framework of the first European Science & Society Forum 2005, promoted by the European Commission to highlight the most meaningful events in which citizens are involved in themes as science and technology, Observa proposed to launch the first Italian Forum on “Science and Society” as a preliminary project by which Italy will contribute to the European debate.

The Italian Forum on Science and Society will test a different method from the one commonly used in science/citizens dialogue initiatives. This time, the communication between scientists and citizens will be based on an agenda set by citizens: scientists and research institutions will not present their own activities; rather, the citizens – directly or through associations and organizations – will set the agenda of the discussion about the science/society relationship. The idea is that such a way of proceeding can not only enrich the existing communication forms, but also increase the involvement of citizens and stakeholders in a framework as the Italian one, in which national and local policies on research and innovation are setting out.

The purpose of the Forum is to select issues from subjects that are in different ways involved in scientific and technological innovation (public authorities, entreprises, associations and organisations, school, public citizens), with particular reference to the local level; afterwards, these issues will come up for public discussion between leading exponents of the research community and civil society, during a public meeting that’s going to take place in Vicenza on the 11th of February 2005.

The project is developed in two phases.

During the first one, thoughts, ideas, opinions, initiatives and advice about scientific research and technological innovation will be collected. This will be possible through:

a) the creation, on Observa’s website, of a on-line public forum on science and society focused on three key-areas: investments in scientific and technological research, forms of science/society communication, citizens’ involvement in decisions regarding science and technology.

The forum, activated on the 20th of October, has been organized in collaboration with Quark magazine and Corriere del Veneto newspaper, that will give prominance to the project both by asking readers to take part and by publishing the most interesting remarks.

In order to trigger a larger national involvement, the support of different websites such as Fondazione Bassetti, Fondazione Golinelli,Newston’s apple and of the Osservatorio Regionale sulla Condizione Giovanile is going to be set up;

b) the involvement of professional associations’ representatives, of voluntary organizations, of schools as “privileged witnesses” able to analyse the themes focusing on the local dimension.

The second part of the project consists of a public meeting that’s going to take place in Vicenza on Friday, the 11th of February 2005, during which citizens and stakeholders from research, business, public authorities and professional associations will be asked to discuss ideas and suggestions collected during the first phase.

The purpose of the meeting is to give public voice to citizens’ questions and expectations regarding research and innovation and to start a worthwhile exchange of views and ideas about how the relationship between science and society is going to develop.

Dowload the forum brochure to see the programme.

For more information, write to forumscienza@observanet.it