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Events promoting Science in Society during the French Presidency

Final Report Summary - CONFRESP (Events promoting Science in Society during the French Presidency)

The European Conference "Science in Society: Dialogues and Scientific Responsibility" was held during the French Presidency of the European Union Council on November 24-25, 2008 at the Palais d'Iéna, Economic Social and Environmental Council in Paris (France). The European conference was one of the three "Science in Society" events under the auspices of the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research to be held during the French Presidency of the European Union Council.
It was organised on M.U.R.S initiative (Universal Movement for Scientific Responsibility), with the support of the European Commission and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). The conference was opened by Commissionner J. Potocnik (videomessage) and Ministers V. Pécresse and A. Schavan.

The objective of the Conference was to discuss the role science plays within our knowledge society and to examine the ways and means to promote dialogues between stakeholders and partners of science, and the scientific community. The title of the Conference was designed to emphasize both the autonomy of science and society from one another, and the connections they have at large. The choice of words was deliberate - these dialogues do not aim to achieve consensus, but responsible debate between parties and responsibility in the domain which is the preserve of scientists.

Issues at stake
What were the issues? We wanted to understand whether Europe was becoming a "flat" and homogeneous world on account of globalization. We wanted to know how dialogue between scientists and co-stakeholders in science exists in three dimensions: in geography, in a thematic approach with, as its major fields, and in variations and consistency in current mechanisms for dialogue.
Three major scientific issues for European citizens were discussed: environmental changes on our planet, good health level, and balanced development of every society are major scientific issues for all the fields of science.
They require the attention of scientists and non scientists alike.
But science must also define its own way to progress, because research is a build up process with the aim of advancing the frontiers. Science is driven by the belief that there is always a better explanation or a better theory to be discovered or formulated.
However, societal issues must not be mistaken for scientific issues but simply brought closer together. The European citizenship is based on this founding value, not on the utilitarianism of economic globalisation.
As a result of the Conference, the following actions for the future have been adopted:
- Organisation of an annual Joint European Forum on a specific subject to be prepared separately in each participating country according to its own cultural and societal specificity, to be held during the Presidency of the European Union Council.
- Creation of a European Consortium for the coordination of national key players by M.U.R.S..The progress of the project was presented via the project website (www.projecteverest.org) thus making wider dissemination of the project objectives and results.