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Citizen Visions on Science, Technology and Innovation

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Society's visions foresee a better future

An ambitious EU project is consulting with citizens of different European countries to map their visions on the future and turn them into reality. These visions will be incorporated into the EU's next Framework Programme for a better Europe.

Digital Economy

The best way to create a true knowledge society in Europe and globally is by involving society in the process and giving it a mouthpiece to voice its needs and concerns. This holds true particularly with respect to science and technology (S&T) development, which can benefit greatly from enhanced democratic debate and a more engaged and informed public. Knowledge and innovation could very well become the main sources of wealth creation globally, and societal relevance of S&T will enhance the European economy in the global arena. The EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) wants to enhance society's role in research, promoting its participation in research and science policy-making. This change is being embodied through the EU-funded 'Citizen visions on science, technology and innovation' (Civisti) project which explores how defining relevant, proactive research agendas could gain from consultation with citizens. In other words, society's concerns and expectations can be collected and transformed into relevant research agendas. To achieve this, Civisti is outlining new and emerging issues on European S&T. It is producing a set of policy options relevant to future European Framework Programmes and sitting down with citizens in seven Member States. This initiative is being supported by the analytical capacity of experts and stakeholders. Civisti has already established citizen panels in these seven countries and helped them develop 69 future visions. One of the key characteristics of these visions was the holistic and interdisciplinary treatment of future issues. Since expert-based thinking is often specialised rather than holistic, and is disciplinary rather than interdisciplinary, the citizens' or lay-experts' visions are expected to provide new ideas and viewpoints. Formal experts and stakeholders can then consult these visions and emerge with another way of examining and interpreting new issues related to S&T policy. The citizens' 69 visions lend insight into the hopes, dreams, fears and challenges they have for the future European society. They represent unique direct input from citizens on the politics of the future, with relevance to a number of policy areas. They will offer direct input for the design of the future EU research policy and more specifically to further European Framework Programmes. In this way, Civisti will produce concrete and direct recommendations for policy-makers, supported by citizens, S&T experts and stakeholders, too. Citizens will evaluate and prioritise the recommendations in order to define what they consider is most important for their future. Last but not least, the project will develop and test an innovative methodology for citizen participation on a long-term basis. This is a very cost-effective way of helping Europeans to participate in creating a better world to live in.

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