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May 2015

'Creating a national citizen engagement process for energy policy', by Nick Pidgeon, Christina Demski, Catherine Butler, Karen Parkhill and Alexa Spence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS): www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1317512111.

The article focuses on the Sciencewise-funded Energy Pathways 2050 dialogue project. TheĀ  introductory abstract is as follows:

"This paper examines some of the science communication challenges involved when designing and conducting public deliberation processes on issues of national importance. We take as our illustrative case study a recent research project investigating public values and attitudes toward future energy system change for the United Kingdom. National-level issues such as this are often particularly difficult to engage the public with because of their inherent complexity, derived from multiple interconnected elements and policy frames, extended scales of analysis, and different manifestations of uncertainty. With reference to the energy system project, we discuss ways of meeting a series of science communication challenges arising when engaging the public with national topics, including the need to articulate systems thinking and problem scale, to provide balanced information and policy framings in ways that open up spaces for reflection and deliberation, and the need for varied methods of facilitation and data synthesis that permit access to participantsā€™ broader values. Although resource intensive, national-level deliberation is possible and can produce useful insights both for participants and for science policy."

The paper identifies Sciencewise as one of the few national programmes working in this way, and provides extensive detail on the Energy 2050 Pathways dialogue.