The field of public participation in issues relating to science, technology and the environment is booming. To date, much effort has gone into developing new participatory approaches and their evaluation, while most of what we know comes from individual case studies of engagement. This report builds on one of the first ever studies of public participation experts, their networks, roles and relations, to present a broader analysis of the UK public dialogue field as a whole.
It draws on a recent project that involved 21 of the UK’s leading thinkers, practitioners, and policy makers in this area reflecting on the following critical questions:
• What is the nature of participatory governance networks and the roles and relations of different actors within them?
• Who counts as an expert on public participation and how are these meanings changing over time?
• What are the implications of the increasing institutionalisation, commercialisation and professionalisation of public dialogue?
• To what extent are UK science and policy institutions learning about and learning from public dialogue?
Taken together, these insights indicate that the field of public dialogue on science and technology has reached a critical moment and highlight a series of challenges and recommendations for its future sustainability.
This report is one of a series of six covering research undertaken by Sciencewise. The workstreams aim to explore specific aspects of public and stakeholder engagement resulting in guidance for policy makers who want to engage people within their policy area.
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