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What's On

What's On

Responsible Science and Pulic Engagement Seminar

14th May 2012, 10:30 to 17:30, Holgate Conference Centre, Grey College, Durham

New storylines for living with environmental change
A free policy seminar facilitated by Phil Macnaghten and Jon Gluyas of Durham University.
External participants at the Seminar include Andy Gibbs (ESRC), Richard Jones (Sheffield), Richard Owen (Exeter), Jack Stilgoe (Exeter), Alison Wall (EPSRC), Paul Younger (Newcastle).
This is part of a set of planned activities associated with an inter-disciplinary project funded by Durham University's Institute of Advanced Study under the Futures 2 programme: 'New storylines for living with environmental change: citizens' perspectives'. The overall aim of the project is to develop a public engagement methodology designed to frame and articulate a grand societal challenge, from the bottom-up, on the theme of 'living with environmental change', and focused to explore the social and ethical implications of different emerging and potentially contested technological responses.

The context for the seminar lies in the rapidly growing debate, pioneered in the UK and following recommendations made in recent years by the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, on the need for assessment approaches that can be enacted early on (upstream) in the innovation process to promote the responsible emergence of novel science and technology. Yet while initiatives aimed at promoting a more responsible - and reflexive - scientific culture are to be welcomed, to date, there has been little to no attempt to explore, with scientists and policymakers, how public deliberation might feature, normatively, in socio-technical responses to environmental change and in the framing of new research. What might innovation practices look like, informed by public perceptions of the ambivalent role of technology in driving environmental solutions; how might regulatory paradigms be adapted, more self-consciously aware of the dangers of the release of entities that are emergent and potentially irreversible; what does 'messing' or 'tinkering' with nature look like in relation to technologies that are ever-more able to fundamentally alter life, bodies, climate systems and so on.

These questions will be examined through a multi-stakeholder process, involving policymakers and regulators alongside the Citizens' Panel that has been working with the 'New Storylines' project, and following an explicit discussion on the recommendations of the citizens' panel and their implications for public policy and research.  The programme for the day has been designed by members of the Citizens' Panel, who will lead the morning activities.  

Chatham House Rule - we hope to be able to discuss freely and frankly some of the dilemmas faced by scientists and science policymakers and funders. Hence we will work within the Chatham House Rule and agree that any information that is flagged as confidential should not be discussed outside the meeting. Any report produced will be agreed by all participants and will anonymise contributions.  The Chatham House Rule states that: "When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed".

11.00 - Arrivals and coffee (Holgate Centre, Grey College)
11.15 - Introductions, scene setting (Phil Macnaghten, Sue Shaw and Citizens' Panel)
11.30 - Short (optional) walk to Great High Wood (Sue Shaw and Angela Kennedy)
Conversations with trees (Ingrid Sylvestre)
Group task and individual responses (Angela Kennedy)
13.00 - Lunch  (Holgate Centre)
13.30 - Reflections on the morning activities
14.00 - Short accounts of current dilemmas from scientists/policymakers:
Prof Richard J. Davies, Professor of Energy, Director of Durham Energy Institute, Durham University
Prof. Richard A. L. Jones, FRS,Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, University of Sheffield
Prof. Richard Owen, Professor of Responsible Innovation, University of Exeter Business School
Dr Alison Wall, Associate Director Impact, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
14.30 - Small group discussions (each group discusses two dilemmas)
15.15 - Feedback from group discussions
15.40 - Next steps and concluding comments from Prof.Tom McLeish (PVC Research, Durham University) on how Durham University might take the issues forward
16.00 - Tea and close

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