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Portfolio of research engaging with citizens

Science & Society- Forum2005

‘First Action Portfolio’ – the prequel

Background description

Since the launch of the European Union’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) for research in 2002, a wide range of publications have been produced explaining the relevance and output of the Science and Society action. But it was felt, leading up to the Science in Society Forum 2005, that a more modular, easy-to-read approach to communicating the importance of science to society was needed. The result, the first Science and Society Action Portfolio – Today’s Science for Tomorrow’s Society, more than met this need. Forty project fact sheets, written by professional journalists, covered a vast range of subjects, including the effectiveness of science publishing, the importance of debating and understanding science and ethics, better use of expertise and scientific advice, supporting women in science, and more.

These individual sheets were printed recto-verso on glossy paper and packaged in an attractive and informative folder – summarising the role and ambitions of the European Commission’s Science and Society scheme – in time to be distributed at the Forum in March.

Profile

“Science underpins almost every aspects of our lives”, begins the Science and Society Action Portfolio, a folder of some 40 facts sheets produced by the European Commission’s Research Directorate-General to highlight European science and society-related research in action. “Without it,” the publication goes on, “many of the things we take for granted would be unthinkable. We call upon some basic or advanced principle of science in almost every action we perform – from switching on a light to undergoing major surgery.”

The fact sheets were divided into a number of colour-coded key action areas which coincided nicely with the main themes debated during the Science in Society Forum 2005, an event organised by the Research DG to help bridge a well-documented knowledge and trust gap forming between the scientific community and the public at large.

Themes covered included: policy and strategy; scientific advice and governance; ethics in science; women and science; education and science; science awards; and science communication and public perception.

Full title: Science and Society Action Portfolio, Today’s Science for Tomorrow’s Society, Second Release, November 2005
Format: 40 double-sided project sheets presented in a six-sided A4 portfolio Produced by: European Service Network for the Science and Society Directorate at the Research Directorate-General of the European Commission
ISBN: 92-894-9935-4
Order from: http://bookshop.europa.eu/

Science in society significance

Initially intended to go in the information pack given to the delegates at the Science in Society Forum 2005, the Action Portfolio has become a handy information tool for EU officials attending conferences and meetings, where there are opportunities to present what the European Union’s research funding is doing for society.

“I didn’t realise so much was going on in this area at the EU level,” commented one of the Forum delegates from a non-government organisation who received a first issue of the folder. Indeed, topics were selected carefully to reflect this breadth of activity. Through titles, readers’ attention is first drawn and then held as they quickly learn what EU research and policy is doing in this area. Readers then discover the ‘science in society’ significance of these initiatives.

Results/outcomes

So successful was the first Science and Society Action Portfolio that the European Commission decided to reproduce the formula in a second batch of Action Sheets, this time exploring science and society issues and activities – projects, events, publications, etc. – cutting across other research themes in FP6. Being modular – which means the portfolio content could be mixed-and-matched to suit the information needs – was considered a major advantage of the publication. “I go to lots of events like this and receive layers of information which is not always relevant to my needs. So, folders like this one are great because you keep the most interesting bits to show people later,” explained a delegate at the Forum where the portfolio was first distributed.

The boxed information was well appreciated by people looking for a quick précis of the project details. Others commented not only on the breadth of the topics covered but also on how succinct and easy to read they all were. Demand is still strong for the portfolio, reflecting the quality and enduring shelf-life of the publication.

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