Participatory Approaches in Science and Technology (PATH)

Project Summary

"Wir leben sauber!" Demonstration und Kundgebung gegen Gentchnik in der Landwirtschaft und in Lebensmittel in Stuttgart.Many important environmental issues and policies have a scientific basis, so experts are usually involved in helping politicians and the civil service to develop policies on complex subjects. However, increasingly, the public, interest groups and non-governmental organizations are also concerned with these subjects, and try to influence debates and policy developments. The media picks-up on these issues and contributes their interpretations in ‘story lines’.

How do these diverse interest groups interact? How is it possible to represent silent voices such as children and future generations in such debates? Participatory schemes have largely been run at the local scale: can we learn from these to accommodate issues that often have regional, national and international significance?

In tackling these questions, PATH drew on the experience of a number of academics, practitioners, policymakers and stakeholders from across Europe. The project highlighted directions for future research that could help improve the participation of civil society in science-based policy debates.

Focusing on the problems of scale and representation, PATH took three topical issues as case studies:

  • genetically modified organisms in agriculture
  • conservation of biodiversity
  • nanotechnology

More details about the project, partners and publications are available on the project website.

Project Conference

The PATH conference was held from 4-7th June 2006 in Edinburgh. It brought together interested parties concerned with the involvement of society in the formulation of science based policy. Participants exchanged knowledge and explored future directions for public participation in science and technology issues. For more information see the conference website.

Project Members

  • Kirsty Blackstock  
  • Claudia Carter – Project co-leader and co-founder
  • Carol Hunsberger  
  • Wendy Kenyon – Project co-leader
  • Caspian Richards  
  • Clive Spash – Project co-founder
  • Jamie Watt