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ESF Calls For Greater Development In ‘Science In Society’ Initiatives

July 16, 2012

16 July 2012 At the ESOF 2012 conference The European Science Foundation´s (ESF) dedicated Member Organisation Forum (MO Forum) on ℠Science in Society Relationships´ has released its latest report: “Science in Society: a Challenging Frontier for Science Policy”. The report has called for a strengthening of ℠Science in Society´ (SiS) activities in a time of ambiguity for science.

Society has changed much (and is still changing rapidly) under the influence of science and technology. But it seems that, following the endeavor of growth after the Second World War, science now finds itself in an ambiguous situation. On the one hand, research promises a better future, yet on the other, new criticism arises from many sides and provokes a decrease of trust in science by the public.

The latest report aims to highlight the role of science in society, to raise awareness of how scientific knowledge is translated into society and to encourage better practice in the relationship between science and society. In order to achieve a better society and increase the quality of research and innovation, the MO Forum offers several recommendations:

-A clear commitment to SiS in MO science policy and strategy has to be enhanced
-Transparent SiS processes must be put in place within the organizational structures of Member Organisations and other research funding and performing bodies. SiS processes must also be seen as an essential and central part of a researcher´s work
-Researchers and research groups must be properly rewarded for their work in this area
-More experiments concerning instruments, activities and methods should be encouraged
-Sharing experience and best practice through networks for exchange within Europe on a regular basis would increase efficiency in SiS
-Networks to jointly develop systems for indicators, evaluations and measurements are needed. There is a need to coordinate efforts for greater impact. Organisations need the instruments to do this and this involves ensuring that SiS activities are formally evaluated, which is not the case today

Professor Jean-Pierre Alix from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) declared: “An effective knowledge-based society requires greater interaction with, and awareness of, research opportunities and initiatives across all sectors of society. Researchers should be acutely aware that these activities are valuable in developing science for the future generation.”

Detailed in the report is the MO Forum´s deliberations, survey, case studies and data analysis which provides substantial evidence that even though much is being done, there is a great need for major efforts for improved, dialogue-based interaction between researchers and society. Furthermore there is a need to build greater joint networks to maximize SiS´s reach. In a time where future challenges for science include smart cities, the environment, renewable energy and modes of transport, the report also encourages better, balanced SiS practices. It outlines that researchers should be rewarded for their efforts and the need for more experiments and greater methods of sharing knowledge in this area should be promoted.

Dr. Camilla Modeer from the Swedish Organisation Riksbankens Jubileumstond said:  ℠We recognize that the recommendations of this Member Organisation Forum will need to be implemented on a long term basis, but this should in no way detract from their importance. To meet the new challenges arising in science in Europe and across the world, each of our Member Organisation´s are committed to developing new SiS activities in their own way, depending on context, remit and impact´.

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