Publication date: 06/07/2007


This report is the product of an expert working group acting under mandate from the European Commission Directorate General for Research (DG RTD), including contributions from specialists in science and technology studies, policy analysis, sociology, philosophy and law, as well as participants from civil society organizations.

The report looks at the causes and implications of widely-recognised European public unease with science and science-based technologies. It asks how we might at the same time further EU commitments to enhance democratic civil society in Europe, as well as address urgent challenges for science and technology policy, for science and governance, including those of climate and sustainability. Individual chapters deal with innovation policy, the regulation of risk institutionalised approaches to ethics, and modes of learning in complex environments, as well as efforts to engage European publics in the governance of science.

A final conceptual chapter draws these themes together by analysing the role of overarching ‘imaginaries’ in shaping practices and perspectives in all these areas. In conclusion, the report advances a number of salient messages for policy makers and sixteen specific recommendations for policy improvement. In sum, the authors call for new forms of experiment in both governance and science, moving beyond conventional linear understandings and engaging afresh with the rich diversity of European public life. Only in this way, the authors argue, will European policy take ‘knowledge society’ seriously -and fulfil its abundant promise.

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