The European Commission has set up a science advisory body that will report directly to its president, José Manuel Barroso. The Science and Technology Advisory Council will identify areas where research and innovation can contribute to Europe’s growth—with a particular focus on benefits and risks of science and technology advances and how to communicate these.
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From a distance, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) displays all of the features of a passing fashion. Yet, there is substance to it. In particular, this approach offers an opportunity to redefine divisions of moral labour in our societies. In this stimulating opinion piece, Arie Rip, professor of philosophy of science and technology at the University of Twente, The Netherlands, shares his perspective as a sociologist on the recent trend to reflect on research goals and include more actors in the research and innovation processes.
Science policy is one of the key topics on the agenda of the European Science Open Forum event, ESOF2016, in Manchester in July 2016. This article looks at various examples of fields where science policy has a key role to play; be it to convey acceptance of new technology, accompany key funding decisions for large international research projects like the largest radio telescope ever developed–the Square Kilometre Array–or simply help fundamental research turn into innovative solutions.
If we use scientific excellence as a judging criterion, Greece is one of the richest European countries. However, in this opinion piece, John Ioannidis, shares his views on the real brakes standing in the way of further developing Greek research. This professor of medicine, health research and policy, and statistics at Stanford University, and former professor at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, is better known for his work showing that most published research findings are false. Here, Ioannidis gives a frank account of the reality of how Greek politics does not give Greek research the best possible chance of blossoming.
A camel is a horse designed by a committee, a proverb says. Policy experts doubt whether a new high level group of eminent scientists will work as planned. It is part of a new scientific advice mechanism, announced on 13 May by the European Commission. In parallel, a completely new feature of the new science advice mechanism is its structured relationship with national science academies and learned societies. The real test will come when controversial issues such as GMOs, shale gas and stem-cells come back to public debates in the future.
Was the recently scraped role of European chief scientific adviser (CSA) position, held by Anne Glover, doomed to fail from the outset? Clearly it was a role that was under resourced and not clearly defined, at no fault of Glover’s, who was clearly full of the right stuff coming from the post of chief scientist in Scotland. And what role did the lobbying by a coalition of NGOs—including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth—who called for the post to be scrapped? Without an easily identifiable and contactable figurehead, the exact mechanisms by which science policy-makers use evidence – or not – remain as mysterious and opaque as ever. The debate goes further than the question of whether Europe needs a single science advisor or a series of science advisors for every single discipline. It raises the question as to how in concrete terms the evidence-base can weave its way more systematically through the policy-making process.
In Germany, solutions to provide independent, participatory research support in response to civic concerns appeared on the agenda already 30 years ago. But it is merely as recently as five years ago that research engagement with civil society became prominent for a larger group of actors. One of the solutions to better interact with citizens has been provided through Science Shops
Science is closely linked with society. And yet, despite its close interdependency with society, science demands autonomy – the right to organise its discovery processes according to its own rules and some freedom to select research topics in accordance with its own agenda. Since society now widely recognises the economic and political importance of science, it has come under scrutiny. Its demands for autonomy are now contested.
Russian researchers are vehemently protesting a bill that would essentially liquidate the venerated Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and replace it with a newly -formed but as-yet poorly-defined body. The bill was passed its first and second reading on 1 July and 5 July 2013, respectively. It is slated to be signed into law when the Duma resumes session on 10 September. According to Russian law, substantive changes may not be made to a bill after it passes its second reading.
Science increasingly deals with challenges that concern society at large such as climate change, nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, demographic change or resource scarcity. But civil society participation in science, let along in science policy, has so far mainly been limited. Now, there is a will to increase citizen participation, in countries like Germany and others…
In Portugal, science friendly policies continue in current times of severe financial restrictions. Indeed, public budgets were preferentially spared and re-directed to the essentials. And a more efficient spending has brought more money to the system than in previous years. The decision of Pedro Passos Coelho, the Portuguese Prime Minister, to create and chair a new advisory body: the National Council for Science and Technology, in 2012 brought another positive initiative to support science in Portugal.