"For about twenty years the controversies relating to questions with strong scientific and technological contents, have increased. They let new democratic expectations arise, both a need to know and a need to decide. Especially the questions about a participation of the civil society in the decision making process increases, which include the guidelines of a basic research as well as the dissemination of innovations, according to the social effects of science and technology.
In the countries of the European Union there are numerous experiences with participative procedures and processes, which differ strongly according to modalities, political background or political culture. The aim of the CIPAST network is to support - by the exchange of good practices and the transfers of expertise - the emergence of a European culture of citizens' participation in these fields,” says Roland Schaer, coordinator of the CIPAST project.
The project CIPAST (Citizen Participation in Science and Technology) aims at encouraging the active participation of society in the policies of scientific research and technological innovation:
· to structure a broad network of European actors involved in participative procedures
· to carry out and foster a transfer of knowledge and expertise, the dissemination good practices and the circulation of relevant information.
During last decades, the implication of the civil society and citizens in the policies of deliberation and the processes of decision-makings concerning the stakes of science and technology notably evolved in the European countries.The methods of involving of the civil company were very diverse: social mobilizations, development of associations and NGOs, formal participative procedures calling upon methods of deliberation and more or less institutionalized decision-makings.
To gather the actors, to share their capacities and to integrate their contextual prospects within the same platform will make it possible to disseminate the good practices in a more effective way, to push the innovation and to support the emergence of a European culture of participative democracy on the scientific and technical stakes.
The development of these participative initiatives represents:
- A response to a keen social demand which originates in the rising awareness of the public on the risks coming from the technological innovation.
- An attempt practises to improve the governance of the modern society by providing democratic tools to enrich the decision-making processes.
· A means of developing instruments able to improve the quality of decisions.
- To develop a network of European actors in participative procedures
- To identify on a large scale the current and potential actors
- To stimulate the exchange of experience and information within the network by creating the tools for these exchanges, such as web site, discussion lists, newsletter and by setting up and maintaining a data base on the participative initiatives in Europe.
- To organize two workshops on knowledge transfer on the involvement of the civil society
CIPAST partner organizations were mobilized to create a training scheme adapted to various contexts in which the participation of the civil society is relevant. This program is elaborate thanks to the experience feedback of several international organizations having recently organized participative initiatives. These workshops are addressed to actors belonging not only to the political sphere but also to the industry and nongovernmental organizations, and the research sector.
CIPAST meets partners from four ranges:
- from parliamentary offices: the Rathenau of institutes (the Hague, NL) and the Danish board of Technology (Copenhagen, DK)
- from science museums and Science Shops: the Cité des sciences et de l'Industrie (Paris, F) the German Hygiene Museum Dresden (Dresden, D), the Citta della Scienza (Neapel, I) and the Bonn Science Shop (Bonn, D)
- from research institutes: Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), France, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), France,
- from universities and schools, which are engaged in the analysis and the socio-political evaluation of participative procedures: Ecole des Mines de Paris (Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation), France, Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques (FNSP), France, University of Westminster, Centre for the Study of Democracy, Royaume-Uni, Univrsity of Lausanne, Science and Society Interface, Suisse
CIPAST is co-ordinated by la Cité des sciences et de l'industrie:
Director Science and Society
Cité des Sciences et de l´Industrie
Tel. +33 (0)1 40 05 72 17