What began as 'Science and Society' under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) was altered to 'Science in Society' under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The change in title, however slight, is a change in perspective, which recognises that research activities are a specific type of social activity that is embedded in a wider societal context.
Another key difference to the Programme under FP7 (2007-2013) was the allocation of the significantly larger budget of EUR 330 million (more than 4 times its debut budget under FP6), reflecting the growing commitment to the Science in Society (SIS) Programme's activities and targets.
The overarching objective of the Programme is to make the SIS perspective a core element of EU research policy, helping shape its future priorities and ways of operating. Under FP7, the SIS Programme, which is part of the 'Capacities' Specific Programme, builds on the actions established under FP6, with greater coherence across its various elements and with the involvement of different actors. It also addresses new and emerging themes.
In 2010, the Programme introduced Mobilisation and Mutual Learning Actions , large-scale structured actions to promote deeper and more systemic collaboration between a wide range of actors around common science in society and research issues. These are designed to bring together research bodies and actors from wider society to jointly implement an action plan so as to address a chosen 'Societal Challenge' through the involvement of wider society in a research agenda setting and by using research results.
The 2020 Vision for the European Research Area (ERA) adopted by the Council in December 2008 underlines that the ERA 'is firmly rooted in society and responsive to its needs and ambitions in pursuit of sustainable development'. This confirms the orientation of the Science in Society (SIS) Programme: to ensure that SIS is integrated into the FP7 and ERA as a whole.
For example, all EU-funded research activities must comply with a strict ethical code. The European Commission carries out an ethical review of project proposals that raise sensitive ethical issues, and takes each review into account when determining which proposals will secure funding.
Gender issues are also taken into account during the negotiation process with successful applicants. Additionally, projects that receive funding under FP7 are required to take appropriate measures to engage with the public and media about their research.
Under FP7, cross-thematic activities are being established between the SIS Programme and other research areas. This involves establishing actions and measures of mutual benefit, highlighting synergies, and helping bridge the gap between topical areas in science and technology and the interests of society.