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The Landscape and Isobars of European Values in Relation to Science and New Technology

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Merging values with scientific progress

A European study sought ways to improve governance of science and technology to match our value system.

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With phenomenally rapid growth in technology and science, the EU is looking for ways to govern innovation in these sectors in line with a system based on European values. The project VALUE ISOBARS (The landscape and isobars of European values in relation to science and new technology) represents a recent EU-funded project that worked to develop a value system. The project worked on developing blueprints for the flexible governance of science and its relationship with society, beginning with biotechnologies such as those for pathogen research and security technologies such as biometrics. VALUE ISOBARS studied social and ethical values, fostering robust value-based dialogue with citizens. It also evaluated legal and regulatory instruments to help govern scientific and technological development. Among its major achievements, the project clarified the concepts behind social and ethical values, highlighting philosophical and social science traditions. It investigated the subtleties between norms, values, rules, morals and preferences, emphasising a European perspective regarding these concepts and definitions. The project also examined the relationship between values and public perceptions of science and technology. It considered different approaches to measuring values, proposing ways to engage stakeholders and citizens in value issues with respect to the two interrelated fields. In one exercise, the project involved around 100 students in an exciting discourse on biometrics, biotechnology and biosecurity. Another important project result was a detailed analysis of values, rights and legal principles focusing on two key issues, namely human cloning and biometrics. Cutting-edge results from these and other studies were published on the project website and discussed in several meetings that involved different stakeholders. Overall, the work accomplished under VALUE ISOBARS is expected to improve the governance of science and technology by taking important value issues into consideration. It has already supported the mapping of values and how the metaphor of value isobars translates into specific instruments for value-based governance. This will be useful in furthering governance first on a European level an eventually on national and regional levels as well.


Governance, science and technology, value system, innovation, European values

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