Science, Trust and Public Engagement – exploring future pathways to good governance

The Science, Trust and Public Engagement project comprised a major review of public concerns about the governance of emerging science and technology through a meta-analysis of 17 UK public dialogues sponsored by Sciencewise on subjects ranging from nanotechnology and synthetic biology, through to low carbon energy and geoengineering of climate change. This analysis identified five spheres of public concern about the governance of science and technology relating to: the purposes of science; trust; inclusion; speed and direction of innovation; and equity.

This review was accompanied by in-depth interviews with 40 senior decision makers in science and policy institutions to explore the extent to which they are responding to these stated public concerns about science governance and what influences these responses. These findings reveal highly partial responses that serve to close down, and sometimes open up, institutional responsiveness to public values.

The project report by Jason Chilvers and Phil Macnaghten was entitled The Future of Science Governance: A Review of Public Concerns, Governance and Institutional Response.The research has informed policy-making within the UK Department for Business innovation and Skills and the Sciencewise Expert Resource Centre, fed into emerging Frameworks for Responsible Innovation, as well as making important academic contributions.

People involved:
Jason Chilvers
Phil Macnaghten (Durham University)
Darren Bhattachary (TNS-BMRB)
Jack Stilgoe and James Wilsdon (when at the Royal Society)

Timescale: 2010-2011

Funded by: Sciencewise-ERC/BIS