Issues of 'science in society' are not in themselves new, but this new report from the European Science Foundation, called "Science in Society: Caring for our Futures in Turbulent Times", is written at a critical time for science policy. Recent times have seen the world having to learn to deal with austerity, libel and new models of business. This all happens at a time when innovation is being promoted more vigorously than ever as a way out of crisis and as a foundation for future prosperity. As the report argues, increased governance of science and technology and the sense of continued austerity raise significant implications for science-society relations.
The report calls for a more careful approach to the meaning of the notions 'science' and 'society' as articulated in many programmes, activities and policy discourses because neither 'science' nor 'society' are homogenous entities. The report also advocates a shift of our attention in approaches to science-society issues to move from from a logic of clear-cut choices - that suggest the idea of a linear problem-solving - to a logic of care, which admits an adaptive process of dealing with these issues in the face of diversity and rapid change already present well before 'the crisis' label. Key recommendations touch upon five broad areas:
Professor Ulrike Felt, Chair of the Scientific Committee in charge of the production of this Science Policy Briefing, comments: "This report above anything calls for a logic of care. Science policy needs to consider contextuality, the complexity and the continuous development of science-society issues in order to become more accurate and beneficial to the science community and society at large."
The report has been formally launched at the Lithuanian EU Presidency conference 'Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities' in Vilnius on 23-24 September 2013 (http://horizons.mruni.eu/).
At the launch event and reception sponsored by ESF in the evening of 24 September, the main speakers were Professor Helga Nowotny (President of the ERC) and Professor Paul Boyle (President of Science Europe).
SCIENCE IN SOCIETY: Caring for our Futures in Turbulent Times is available online at http://www.esf.org/publications.
For further details on the project, please visit: http://www.esf.org/science-in-society.
Notes to editors
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The European Science Foundation (ESF) is an independent, non-governmental organisation that promotes collaboration in scientific research, funding of research and science policy across Europe. Its members are 67 national funding and research-performing organisations and learned societies from 29 countries.
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