Modern society depends on scientific discovery and applying this new knowledge through technology. However, the role that science plays in our daily lives is often overlooked or taken for granted and public opinion is often only mobilised when research and new discoveries raise ethical questions. For these reasons, the public needs to be properly informed, so that it can make up its mind on the issues.
The main objective of the scientific awareness team is to increase knowledge and understanding of the benefits and impact of European research collaboration by the general public. Activities are also aimed at highlighting issues that could cause public concern to scientists, such as animal testing.
Spreading the word
Involving European citizens more closely with science requires opening up new lines of communication between the scientific community and society at large. As you will learn below, the European Commission organises and supports several activities to help boost this closer relationship.
Shopping for science
Science Shops carry out valuable research on behalf of civil society and act as a bridge between civil society and the scientific research community. The European Commission is helping to forge Europe-wide networks of grassroots research organisations.
European and national Science Weeks
The ten-year-old European Science and Technology Week demonstrates in a visually attractive and engaging manner the impact of science and its applications on our daily lives. With a similar focus, national Science Weeks are organised in many European Member and Associated States.
A new generation of scientists
Nurturing a new generation of scientists is essential to improving the quality of life of European citizens and enhancing the continent’s economic competitiveness. A number of initiatives have been taken to encourage young people to get involved in science. These include strengthening scientific education and careers and involving young people in scientific discovery both inside and outside formal education. Among the Commission’s initiatives to spark scientific interest among youth, the EU Young Scientists Contest rewards and celebrates Europe’s best young scientific talent.
A campus in the community
Higher educational establishments, in particular universities, are opening up and interacting more with society through frequent exercises in dialogue. Researchers are also being encouraged, through the use of grants and prizes, to become more mobile within Europe.
In order to give European scientists the public recognition they deserve, the European Commission organises several scientific awards. Among these accolades is the coveted €1 million Descartes Prize rewarding research teams for outstanding scientific and technological achievements arisingfrom European and international collaborative research.