The Monitoring Research and Policy Activities of Science in Society (MASIS) initiative is a major undertaking of the Science in Society (SIS) Programme. Its aim is to map, steer and monitor the SIS landscape in the European Research Area (ERA) so that EU citizens and society can benefit the most from SIS efforts.
In late 2008, the Council of Ministers of the European Union announced a bold target for the coming decade: free circulation of researchers, knowledge and technology across EU borders. Known as the 'Vision of 2020 of the European Research Area', it defines the road ahead for the ERA, a concept that was first presented in 2000 and that set the scene for European research excellence.
The accompanying statement to the vision for 2020 reads: 'The European Research Area is firmly rooted in society and responsive to its needs and ambitions in pursuit of sustainable development'. Science and technology (S&T), it explains, have a key role to play in responding to the needs of citizens and businesses, and the ERA aims to build on trust and dialogue between the science and society communities. The SIS Programme, therefore, has an important function to perform in implementing this vision.
Launched in June 2008, the ultimate objective of MASIS is to inspire greater synchronicity between the needs of society (particularly in light of the constant stream of changes Europe is undergoing) and science's response to these challenges by facilitating and encouraging European cooperation in SIS research and policy activities.
As a first step, a high-level group of experts was given the task of examining the role of SIS by analysing trends and challenges across Europe, within both EU Member States and associated countries. The role of the experts was to inform relevant policy-makers and all other stakeholders of their findings and recommendations, increase the visibility of SIS activities in different parts of the EU, and increase their impact in European policy and society.
In 2009, the MASIS experts released Challenging Futures of Science in Society: Emerging Trends and Cutting-edge Issues ( 1.5MB), a report that provides an overview of the SIS landscape in Europe and ideas for the way forward.
In the second phase, the MASIS service contract (awarded in 2009 to COWI A/S from Denmark) will provide a system to map and follow the developments of the most important SIS activities at national and European levels.
MASIS will launch information-gathering measures with the help of a network of national correspondents. It will also build on existing national, regional and European resources by enhancing their European dimension. An interactive online portal will be established to provide easy access to information and enable involvement of stakeholders.