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Talking science


'The public understanding of science' is not a new concern. But the accelerating progress of scientific knowledge, its growing impact on society's development, plus the questions - and sometimes the fears - aroused by its influence are giving this a new urgency. Consequently, over the past two decades, a number of European countries have organised annual science and technology 'weeks' or 'fairs'. These events invite the general public, and young people in particular, to develop an interest in the constantly unfolding adventure and progress of research - and to discuss it.



Inauguration of the 'Fly me to the sun' exhibition in Noordwijk (NL).

Since 1993, the Commission has organised a similar event on a European scale. A series of attractions involving participants from different countries is held in November each year and puts the spotlight on the European dimension of research in Europe. During these few days, museums, universities, scientific institutions and schools become a showcase of European cooperation in the pursuit of knowledge.

This special issue of RTD info presents the many facets of European Science and Technology Week 2000, during which the European Union supported seven major initiatives presented in various forms (exhibitions, debates, video productions, conferences, new information tools for the Internet, etc.).

Hopefully the pages of this issue will convey the dynamism and diversity of the occasion. This immersion in 'Week 2000' also has the more specific aim of presenting examples of events which could in turn stimulate new ideas and give rise to other projects on the occasion of future Science Weeks (see box). Many of these initiatives also remain on-going, whether in the form of travelling exhibitions or a continuing communication on the Internet.

The trans-European actions presented at the 2000 event reflect a shared desire: to communicate advances in scientific knowledge. A desire now clearly laid down in the creation of the European Research Area. This also implies communicating the culture in which this progress is made, the joys which can come with a passion for research, the benefits of these discoveries, the aims it pursues and the questions it raises.

A project for 2002

Conducting chemistry experiments in a circus tent, organising Internet debates between teachers and pupils from secondary schools all over Europe, presenting an exhibition on the relationships between man and animals, inviting the experts to unveil the car of the future or the latest progress in environment technologies... Any project with a European approach and the objective of demystifying science and technology for the general public - especially young people - can be submitted in response to the next call for proposals from the European Science and Technology Week and will, if accepted, receive financial support from the European Commission.(1)

The projects to be realised in 2002 must reply to the forthcoming call for proposals. Information on this call is available on the Internet site or by e-mail at:
Stephen Parker
Fax : 32-2-296 70 24

(1) This support is granted under the 'Raising public awareness of science and technology' section of the 'Improving Human Potential'

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