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The Value and Nature of Science in Society Processes: Establishing an Evidence Base


The 'Science in Society ('S in S) agenda is currently of major concern to the BBSRC and other research councils. This stems from growing recognition of a need for 'science' to be socially accountable not least for the pragmatic reason that public understandings can have significant impacts on the acceptability and uptake of scientific research (the rejection of technologies like the genetic modification of crops being one example of inadequate S in S interactions). However, the best ways of achieving S in S goals are undetermined. There are few academic underpinnings to S in S practitioner activities.<P>
This projects aims to address this deficiency. In particular, it aims to: <OL> <LI> Critically address the merits or otherwise of the S in S concept;<LI> Develop a typology of contexts to aid understanding of the appropriateness of different S in S processes (communication, consultation and participation); <LI> Continue work on 'risk perception' (a context factor liable to be of high importance for informing choice of S in S processes); <LI> Modify and improve the Rowe-Frewer evaluation framework, and develop and validate appropriate instruments to operationalise this; <LI> Evaluate a number of different S in S exercises, conducted in different contexts (defined by our new context typology) using different engagement mechanisms (defined by our previously developed mechanism typology); <LI> Use the results of our evaluations to develop a theory of what works best when indicating what S in S process, and what particular mechanism, is likely to be most effective in what context.

Institute of Food Research, UK
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