Promoting scientific education and culture in Europe
1.1 Public awareness
If scientific and technological progress is to meet
the needs of Europe's citizens and regain their support,
they will need to have information that is understandable
and of a high quality, as well as ready access to
this specific culture.
The media, researchers, research institutions - in
particular universities - as well as industry must
play their public information role to the full. They
must be capable of communicating and engaging in debate
on scientific issues in a rigorous and comprehensible
professional manner, as well as explaining frankly
the benefits and limitations of scientific progress.
Dissemination of scientific information
In order to provide reliable, relevant information
to the general public, it will be necessary to support
independent sources of public information through
action at European level. It is important at the same
time to develop thematic, multilingual scientific
training modules aimed at journalists in the written
and audio-visual media.
The Commission, in cooperation with the Member
States, will set up a study group comprising journalists
and representatives of the press in order to examine
the best way of ensuring efficient dissemination of
scientific information at European level, for example
by promoting the establishment of a European scientific
press agency or by facilitating the creation of a
network for the exchange by professionals of information
destined for the general public.
Galileo Europe is an Internet service
for providing tailored information to the
media. It is a database of press releases,
details of events, images and background information
on science and technological development within
Europe. An e-mailing alert system based on
keywords allows journalists to access breaking
news in their fieldsof interest.
Relations between science and the media can sometimes
be polemic. In some countries, guidelines for relations
between the media and the scientific community, and
vice versa, have been proposed. Journalists and scientists
who make a particular effort in this area deserve
Representatives of the scientific community and
the media will be brought together in a forum at European
level to encourage and support the development of
guidelines for a more fruitful interaction and mutual
understanding between the two.
The Commission will stimulate interest in scientific
journalism and contribute to improving its quality
by creating a special award for those involved in
science communication with the public.
The Commission will study ways of promoting science
in all multimedia forms including television (European
festival of science films for the general public,
exchange mechanisms between audio-visual production
structures, networks of regional television channels,
etc) under the MEDIA
Plus programme (1). The
Commission already supports the development and production
of audio-visual works, including creative documentaries,
for broadcasting on European television channels.
These audio-visual works may concern those popularising
science and technology.
An exchange forum (including an on-line forum)
will be set up, taking account of the potential of
the Internet for audio-visual dissemination (2)
, to pursue reflections on the scientific content
of multimedia tools.
Exploitation at European level of existing know-how
for popularising science and technology in the major
transnational and national research institutes and
initiatives, such as the network of European Science
museums, will be encouraged.
(European Collaborative for Science, Industry
and Technology Exhibitions) is a European
network of museums, science centers and other
organisations involved in science communication
to a wide public. Covering over 35 countries,
it promotes the exchange of experience and
novel ideas. ECSITE develops transnational
projects for raising the public's awareness
of science, funded by EC and other sources.
The creation of products for broad general dissemination
(television programmes, paper publications, etc.)
will be promoted through targeted calls for tender
and the use of existing instruments for this purpose
will be encouraged.
Excellent scientific information products for the
general public already exist in countries of the Union
and should be more widely exploited through greater
interchange between European countries.
Targeted calls for proposals will provide an opportunity
for translating the best public communication products
(e.g. travelling or permanent exhibitions, documentaries,
etc.) to other languages.
Science weeks in Europe
Science and Technology Week, created by the
Commission in 1993, has become one of the activities
under the Research and Technological Development Framework
Programme. Member States and the associated countries
also organise national activities to promote scientific
and technical culture. Similar activities exist at
regional and local level.
Member States and the Commission would gain by sharing
their experiences and best practices.
The establishment of a committee comprising organisers
of national science weeks will facilitate synergies
between the European Science week and the national
science weeks or festivals, in particular through
the exchange of best practice and experiences of successful
The European Science week will be greatly enhanced
by linking national science weeks, and conversely
national science weeks will be boosted by the organisation
of events on a European scale.
The Commission will particularly ensure that the
achievements of Community research are better represented
in the context of the European Week and contribute
to the development of the national weeks.
Comparing national approaches to scientific and
The Commission has already launched an activity to
benchmark national policies in five key areas, including
"the promotion of RTD culture and public understanding
of science". The results from the first cycle of benchmarking
are due by mid 2002. Further activities for evaluating
and analysing the current state of RTD culture in
Europe willbe developed.
The impact of activities across Europe for raising
public awareness of science, technology and innovation
will be analysed through comparative research and
studies (including benchmarking).
Promoting scientific culture in Portugal
Launched in June 1996, the Ciência
Viva programme is the Portuguese Ministry
of Science and Technology's contribution to
the promotion of a scientific and technological
culture among the Portuguese population. Ciência
Viva is supported by Community Structural
Funds. It is an open programme, promoting
alliances and fostering autonomous actions
through the definition of three fundamental
action tools: a support programme aimed at
experimental teaching and the promotion of
scientific education in school, the national
network of Ciência Viva centres and national
scientific awareness campaigns.
Systematic public information on Community research
Because of their knowledge, researchers, research
organisations and industry now have a particular responsibility
vis-à-vis society in terms of providing scientific
and technological information to Europe's citizens.
Communication of scientific and technological progress
should be stepped up, in particular the progress flowing
from the Research and Technological Development Framework
The conditions for Community Research and Technological
Development Projects will require partners to systematically
disseminate to the public in various forms the scientific
and technological progress achieved under the Framework
Programme for Research: media coverage, exhibitions,
products for education and teaching purposes, public
The MEDIA Programme entered into force in January 2001
and aims at strengthening the competitiveness of the
European audio-visual industry with a series of measures
dealing with the training of professionals, the development
of production projects and companies, and the distribution
and promotion of cinematographic works and audio-visual
(2) It is
worth noting that the European Commission's e-Europe
action plan, designed inter alia to facilitate the
widest possible access to the Internet, is an important
initiative for the dissemination of scientific culture.