European Economic and Social Committee holds conference on gap between research and society
Public involvement in research was the main issue discussed at the conference on "Civil Society in Research and Innovation", which took place on 28 January 2015 in Brussels The event was hosted jointly by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the CONSIDER project (Civil Society Organisations in Designing Research Governance) and brought together around 200 representatives from across Europe and beyond. Policymakers, civil society representatives and academic researchers discussed the recent work carried out by the EESC and the CONSIDER project, and looked at both current practices and potential future directions.
Public involvement in research has been established as a cornerstone of the responsible research and innovation agenda that pervades all European research funded by Horizon 2020. The conference found that this therefore calls for a cross-section of stakeholders such as researchers, policymakers and civil society organisations to be involved in research. Despite the fact that including civil society representation provides a number of benefits, such as proximity to society's needs, it was found that there is still limited understanding of the role that civil society organisations play in research.
The findings of the CONSIDER project were also presented at the event. The project focussed on issues related to integrating CSOs (civil society organisations) into collaborative research projects, especially EU-funded projects under FP7 and Horizon 2020. It ascertained, amongst others, that only 27% of collaborative EU research projects involve CSOs. While conceding that not all research projects will benefit from civil society involvement, which may sometimes even prove counter-productive, the project found that in order for CSO involvement to work, there must be an "identifiable need for links with society at large".
For further information see EESC press release: http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.press-releases.34621
Conference programme and presentations: http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.events-and-activities-civil-society-research-innovation
CONSIDER project: www.consider-project.euTOP