New publication – “Science in Society: caring for our futures in turbulent times”

Pierre-Benoît Joly, Director of IFRIS, has contributed to the Science Policy Briefing N°50 of June 2013, on the topic « Science in Society: caring for our futures in turbulent times ».

Issues of ‘science in society’ are not in themselves new, but this new report from the European Science Foundation, called “Science in Society: Caring for our Futures in Turbulent Times”, is written at a critical time for science policy. Recent times have seen the world having to learn to deal with austerity, libel and new models of business. This all happens at a time when innovation is being promoted more vigorously than ever as a way out of crisis and as a foundation for future prosperity. As the report argues, increased governance of science and technology and the sense of continued austerity raise significant implications for science-society relations.

The report calls for a more careful approach to the meaning of the notions ‘science’ and ‘society’ as articulated in many programmes, activities and policy discourses because neither ‘science’ nor ‘society’ are homogenous entities. The report also advocates a shift of our attention in approaches to science-society issues to move from from a logic of clear-cut choices – that suggest the idea of a linear problem-solving – to a logic of care, which admits an adaptive process of dealing with these issues in the face of diversity and rapid change already present well before ‘the crisis’ label. Key recommendations touch upon five broad areas:

  1. Linking excellence to relevance and responsibility
  2. ‘Science-society activities’
  3. Plurality matters
  4. Expanding and creating new spaces for science-society interactions
  5. Making time-space for reflexive work


p. 2 • Foreword

p. 3 • Executive Summary

p. 6 • Introduction – Unfolding the Issues
p. 6 •   Science-society relations: a concern under changing boundary conditions
p. 8 •   Broadening the meaning of science-society relations

p. 9 • The Context of this Report
p .9 •  Important lessons learned
p. 11 •   Shifting policy discourse on science-society issues
p. 13 •  Connected policy reports

p. 13 •  Science-Society Relations under Changing Boundary Conditions: tendencies and tensions
p. 15 •   Re-ordering science-society relations
p. 19 •   Changing conditions for research and innovation
p. 21 •  Explicit science-society activities

p. 24 • Recommendations

p. 31 • Annexes

Download the report SPB 50 – Science in Society: caring for our futures in turbulent times

For more information, see ESF website, P24.

The European Science Foundation (ESF) gathers 72 organisations from 30 european countries. It aims at promoting european science  Son but est de promouvoir la science européenne through partnerships between leading researchers, as well as through the coordination of policies and funding. Seven French agencies are involved in the ESF: ANR, CNRS, CEA, Ifremer, INSERM, INRA, IRD.