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Headlines Published on 05 September 2007

Title Looking forward to the future of science

“Forward Look” is a programme created under the auspices of the European Science Foundation (ESF) and is concerned with two main issues - exploring future developments in multi-disciplinary scientific research in order to evaluate and improve scientific strategy and policy making, and helping research organisations to identify priorities. Up to now the ESF has supported 13 “Forward Look” projects and is now launching a new series of topics.

Forward Look will help Europe take a central role in scientific research © Matt+
Forward Look will help Europe take a central role in scientific research.
Image: Dasha
“Forward Look” was introduced in the ESF Strategic Plan 2002-06 and the 13 exercises it has supported to date have included the wide-ranging topics of Global Change Research in Europe, Cultural Diversity, Immigration and the Construction of Identity, Urban Science, Nanomedicine, Food Systems, Higher Education, and Computational Sciences.

“Forward Look” projects are usually based around a series of conferences or workshops involving experts in the relevant field, and several of those that have taken place have already resulted in reports analysing “Forward Look’s” likely impact in the future.

The ESF is keen to move “Forward Look” into a central role in assessing new areas of European scientific research and development and it is hoped it will make a strong impact on the ERA (European Research Area). If “Forward Look” is to make this strong impact it is vital that it chooses the right subject areas in order to give confidence to all of its stakeholders and make Europe central to future scientific research.

Therefore, sparking a joint vision of the most important scientific research subject areas is an important part of its policy. Scientific organisations often rely simply on panels of scientists when initiating new scientific activities, but “Forward Look’s” aim is to take this a step further and involve a much wider panel of stakeholders in order to bring a fresher and broader vision of future scientific research.

As a result, “Forward Look” will seamlessly complement the goals of the ERA which includes amongst its goals the optimisation and opening of European, national and regional research programmes in order to support the best research throughout Europe and coordinate these programmes to address major challenges together.

It is intended that “Forward Look” should be the director of future scientific policy and make the process of identifying necessary future scientific challenges and the creation of policies much more dynamic and interactive. Its creation also recognises that the scientific community must play a wider role in the formulation of new scientific research policy and that Europe must be at the cutting edge of scientific research in the 21st century.

More information:

  • The European Science Foundation
  • European Research Area

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