KeywordsLaw and Society
Bioethics and Medical Ethics
Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration
Science and Technology Studies
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AbstractGood scientific research cannot be pursued in a social vacuum, and must contribute to Europe's social objectives. In 2000, the European Commission initiated a debate on the relationship between science, society and Europe's citizens, which led to a Science and Society Action Plan4. The aim of the Action Plan is to ensure that European research fully contributes to the Lisbon Strategy, and inter alia to the 2001 White Paper on European Governance. The plan has three objectives:1. to promote a scientific and education culture in Europe, notably through public awareness, science education and careers and dialogue with citizens;2. to bring science policies closer to citizens, by involving stakeholders, including civil society, achieving gender equality in science and anticipating tomorrow's needs.3. to put responsible science at the heart of policy making, through promoting the ethical dimension in science and in new technologies, detecting and assessing risks and tapping expertise.The Commission's role in implementing the Action Plan is to act as a catalyst and facilitator, using various Community instruments and involving the Member States in a joint, coordinated approach.Science and society in FP6In FP6, covering the four-year period 2002-2006, 88 million were allocated to science and society activities. A dual approach was pursued. On the one hand, FP6-funded research projects - such as Integrated Projects, Networks of Excellence and accompanying actions - were required to integrate science and society issues, as relevant, in their research (the socalled "mainstreaming" or "horizontal" approach).On the other hand, specific actions on particular science and society themes were organised within given thematic research areas; these have typically been Specific Support Actions, Coordinated Actions, or Specific Targeted Research Projects, or meetings and other initiatives initiated by scientific officers in the various thematic directorates.Five science and society issues have been the focus of attention in FP6:∞ Public outreach/dialogue to create the conditions for an informed democratic debate on science. This requires the provision of excellent information and communication to the public on science and technology, as well as open, two-way dialogue between researchers, experts and the public on science and society issues. The aim is to improve the public's knowledge of science and enable Europe's citizens to engage in informed - and open - debate on scientific progress, and on its benefits and limitations. Actions include television programmes and debates, museum exhibitions, science weeks and prizes, science centres and "shops", providing targeted information for journalists, etc.∞ Education. Scientific and technical knowledge is essential for the knowledge-based society, and should be part of the basic skills of all citizens. A strong pool of scientists is needed to contribute to economic growth and social development. Increasing the attractiveness of science, mathematics and technology, and of careers in these areas, especially amongst the young, is a priority. Key actions focus on: promoting sciencea and technology in all levels of education; improving the ways in which science and technology are taught; and retaining the enthusiasm and opportunities for personal development of trained scientists in the private and public sectors.∞ Gender in scientific research covers two dimensions: increasing female participation in science and research, and addressing gender issues associated with the subject of research. Networks of Excellence and Integrated Projects should prepare an action plan for promoting gender equality in their project, and all projects should conform to national and international regulations on equal opportunities. The minimum target of 40% female participation in expert groups and evaluation panels has been strongly pursued as one element of the strategy.∞ Ethical issues must be taken into account, as relevant, by all applicants to FP6. The most visible ethical issues are raised in the context of genetics and biotechnology, where respect for life is of major public concern. However, ethical issues emerge also in other areas of science and research, including respect for privacy in the use of information technology and obligations to future generations concerning the environment and climate change. In the social sciences, ethical issues are raised when sensitive issues such as fertility, ethnicity and religion are the subject of research, and the conduct of socio-economic research on human subjects should also respect ethical standards.∞ Socio-economic dimensions5 include exploring the social and economic costs and risks of scientific developments, and improving the connection between science and research and socio-economic development. Integrating the socio-economic dimension can take various forms, including: involving researchers with different socio-economic backgrounds as project partners, evaluators and in research teams; promoting cooperation between the hard and socio-economic sciences; organising (as has been the case in the specific programme on Information Society Technologies) socioeconomic expert groups; or financing socio-economic research, as in Euratom.