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Insights from the space weather dialogue recognised in space journal

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An article by Mike Hapgood, Head of Space Weather at RAL Space, summarises the insights and value gained from the public dialogue project supported by Sciencewise on space weather. RAL Space is part of the Rutherton Appleton Laboratory (supported by NERC and STFC) which has significant involvement in over 200 space missions and are at the forefront of UK Space Research. Mike Hapgood chaired the Oversight Group for the dialogue project.

The role of Sciencewise is clearly identified. The description of the project starts:

"The UK Space Weather Public Dialogue is one project within a wider programme of public dialogues organised under the Sciencewise programme in the UK. These dialogues are processes during which members of the public interact with scientists, other stakeholders (for example, research funders and businesses) and policy makers to deliberate on issues relevant to future policy decisions. The outcomes should help policy makers to gain a rich understanding of public aspirations and concerns, and thus make better, more robust decisions that reflect public values and societal implications."

The article concludes that

"The Space Weather Public Dialogue has proved to be a very useful exercise in exploring (a) public attitudes to space weather and its mitigation, (b) how to communicate the risk to the wider public, and (c) how personal and community resilience can complement official efforts. The bottom line is, unsurprisingly, the importance of maintaining the supply of electric power."

The article gives extensive details of all the workshops and other elements of the dialogue process including that "The core of the Dialogue process was a series of workshops that brought members of the public together with a number of space weather experts." These were seen as the most valuable aspects of the project. Although there were a number of on-line activities (website, blog, forum, Twitter), the article concludes that:

"the public take-up of on-line opportunities was low, especially when compared to the depth of the interactions between public and experts that we saw in the workshops."

Further reading: http://room.eu.com/articles?id=61

See related project page: Space Weather Dialogue