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Nuclear developments and interaction with society


Specific Challenge:

Perception by and engagement with civil society regarding nuclear applications is a challenging issue. This has been highlighted particularly in the interdisciplinary study and the symposium on ""Benefits and Limitations of Nuclear Fission for a Low Carbon Economy"". A large body of knowledge of past successes and failures in interacting with civil society in the implementing of nuclear projects exist in the form of books and studies, press articles, government reports, radio and TV broadcasts, the memory of projects stakeholders, etc. The aim of this activity is to exploit to the best extent this information in view of shedding light on the last sixty years of developments of nuclear in Europe and a number of other major nuclear stakeholder countries, clarifying the context within which certain decisions were made, identifying the factors which influenced projects' success or failure in gaining engagement of the civil society and ultimately, help improving communication and interaction with civil society for the benefit of all public and private stakeholders concerned.


This research shall be composed of a coherent and representative set of “case studies” regarding nuclear developments and projects, over the last sixty years, in the EU and abroad (USA, Russia, Ukraine, Japan) and related international cooperation where appropriate. These cases shall be examined also taking account of the broader context (economic, political, institutional…) within which decisions were taken regarding the main energy sources for electricity production. The focus shall be on nuclear energy applications but a number of case studies shall also be selected outside the power sector, i.e. in relation to medical and industrial (e.g. agri-business) applications.

In a first phase, historians shall provide the core facts and figures, based on available documents and other sources of information, complemented as appropriate by field investigations, notably interviews of major players with regard to the selected developments and projects. This should result in a well-organised and documented database and historical record.

The second phase shall bring-in additional experts, i.e. communication specialists, sociologists or psychologists of organisations, philosophers and other such specialists in order to analyse and interpret this information from the perspective of furthering the understanding of the mechanisms for effective interaction with civil society regarding nuclear applications and projects, including the factors underlying perception, participation and engagement.

In the third and last phase, the results shall be presented and discussed with industry, associations, policy makers and representatives of the civil society.

The research team will need to demonstrate the absence of conflict of interest and its ability to conduct this study in complete independence from developments in the nuclear domain. The team will however need to demonstrate the appropriate breadth of expertise and experience needed in view of conducting such type of investigation. A fully detailed work plan of the desk and fieldwork, established and agreed with all main performers involved in the project, will have to be presented to the EC for approval within the first eight months of the project.

Expected impact: This research should contribute to the understanding of factors triggering the societal engagement with nuclear energy and other nuclear applications and provide insights to decision makers and other stakeholders regarding interaction with civil society. This should help the implementing of future nuclear projects, primarily in energy production, but similarly in areas such as food processing, nuclear medicine, emergency management or radioactive waste management. It should also reinforce the links between the nuclear research community and the social sciences and humanities, and help with the disseminating and understanding of nuclear research and knowledge.

Type of action: Research and innovation actions.

Additional information: The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the Euratom of between EUR 2 and 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.