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Citizen Visions on Science, Technology and Innovation

Periodic Report Summary - CIVISTI (Citizen visions on science, technology and innovation)

For Europe to become the most advanced knowledge society in the world, it is imperative that legitimate societal concerns and needs related to science and technology development are taken on board, entailing an enhanced democratic debate with a more engaged and informed public and better conditions for collective choices on science issues. Knowledge and innovation could very well become the main sources of wealth creation globally, and societal relevance of science and technology will enhance the European economy in the global competition. The EU Seventh Framework Programme aims at increasing the societal relevance of research, and thus encourages greater public engagement and promotes the participation of society in research and science policy-making. This change in perspective recognises that research activities are a special type of social activity that is embedded in a wider societal context.

The CIVISTI project is based upon the idea that the process of defining relevant and proactive research agendas could in many respects gain from consultation of citizens. The citizens are the carriers of the concerns and expectations of the future, and with the right facilitating methods, such concerns and expectations can be collected and transformed into relevant research agendas. In short, CIVISTI will:
a. produce a list of new and emerging issues for European S&T,
b. produce a set of policy options of relevance to future European Framework Programmes and
c. base these products upon a novel process of citizen participation in seven member states, supported by the analytical capacity of experts and stakeholders.

Within the first project period of CIVISTI the project focused on first developing the whole methodology of the project, establishing citizen panels in seven EU Member States and assisting the citizen panels in creating visions for the future. The most important results of the first project period are the visions produced by the citizens. The seven citizen panels produced 69 future visions. One of the key characteristics of the visions was the holistic and 'interdisciplinary' treatment of future issues. Since expert-based thinking can often be characterised as specialised instead of holistic, and disciplinary instead of interdisciplinary, the visions created by the citizens (or 'lay-experts') in the CIVISTI project are expected to provide new ideas and viewpoints to the experts and stakeholders of how to think about and interpret new issues of science and technology policy.

The expected final results of CIVISTI can be split in three categories. First there are the 69 visions produced by European citizens. These visions give an insight into the hopes and dreams and the fears and challenges people see for the future European society. They can be considered as direct input from citizens from seven EU member states to the politics of the future on a number of policy areas. The visions are unique and original input is from citizens to policy-makers, industry and stakeholders within the sphere of the visions. Second there is a list of new and emerging issues for European S&T. This will have the form of recommendations for future research agendas and policy options for European science and technology politics. This list will be direct input for the design of the future EU research policy and more specifically to future European Framework Programmes (FP8). In this way CIVISTI will produce concrete and direct recommendations for policy-makers, which is formulated by S&T experts and stakeholders on the basis of future visions of European citizens and validated and prioritised by citizens to know what they find most important for their future. The design of the results ensures that they can be fed directly into the processes of defining FP8. Third, CIVISTI will develop and test an innovative methodology for citizen participation on long-term foresight, which will be characterised by being very cost-effective.