STInano › Conference on Outreach and Public Engagement in Nanotechnology (Delft, Netherlands, 30 October 2008)
This one-day conference (click here for the agenda) was sponsored by the Netherlands Ministry for Education, Culture and Science; the Rathenau Institute and the OECD. The conference clearly illustrated the different stages that countries are at in their experiences of public engagement with nanotechnology. Some countries, like the UK, have already carried out many activities in the area, have undertaken analysis of their findings and are looking to see how they can use the results in the formulation of policy. Others were seen to be at an earlier stage and spoke of different experiences, sometimes made more complex due to the lack of information available on such new technologies.
Reasons for communication, outreach and public engagement were identified by the speakers as:
The stakeholders involved in the public engagement activities that were described included government (including for example politicians, ministries, agencies); scientists (including social scientists); the public and citizens; the business sector; NGOs and agencies; agents of change and activists; communicators and the media; and people and groups in other countries.
The range of activities described was extensive ranging from science ambassadors to blogs and from games to research into ethical, legal and social issues. These included experts (e.g. in Korea, Australia, the Netherlands); technology assessment (e.g. Ireland); reports and fact sheets (e.g. Korea); surveys (e.g. Australia); art (e.g. the Netherlands, Australia); blogs (e.g. Canada); games and competitions (e.g. Ireland, the Netherlands); television (e.g. Korea, Ireland, the UK); public meetings and lectures (e.g. many countries); newspapers and related media (e.g. Canada); and research (e.g. Australia, the EU).
The following important issues to consider when preparing for public engagement were identified:
Other considerations in preparing for public engagement included:
The WPN is continuing to work on this area, building on the findings to date, with delegate countries undertaking public engagement case studies in 2009-2010.