Involving actors in Technology Assessment
Technology Assessment is “a scientific, interactive and communicative process which aims to contribute to the formation of public and political opinion on societal aspects of science and technology”. From this definition (Decker, Michael and Ladikas, Miltos (Eds.), 2004. Bridges between Science, Society and Policy. Technology Assessment – Methods and Impacts, Berlin: Springer Verlag), we understand that doing TA is at the intersection of different spheres (science and technology, society, politics), which interact and communicate. In this respect, doing TA implies to put together various group of actors (scientists, stakeholders, policy-makers, citizens).
In line with this definition of Technology Assessment, the third practitioners’ workshop explored and discussed the role of various group of actors in TA projects. More precisely, the program focused on the reasons for including -or not- some groups of actors, the ways to include them, and the difficulties that project managers may encounter when dealing with specific group of actors:
- Doing TA: A matter of casting and staging actors, Anders Jacobi (Danish Board of Technology)
Several stories about TA successful projects and their actors were presented:
- The Nano-‐Trust Project, Andre Gazso (ITA)
- The future of Internet, Danielle Bütschi (TA-SWISS)
- Obesity as a societal problem, Anders Jacobi (Danish Board of Technology)
For two days, participants discussed the different roles of stakeholders, experts, laypeople and policy-makers and how they contribute to the overall quality of a TA project. This all relates to very practical questions such as:
- Who has to be involved, when and with which role?
- How to ensure that relevant actors are involved? How to find the right persons?
- How to ensure positive group dynamics? How to deal with controversies/conflicts?
- How to deal with internal or external crisis? (Trouble-shooting)
The workshop had two working group activities:
- One based on very concrete experiences of participants: Involving actors in my institution (knowledge sharing). The presentations from each group can be watched on the videos below:
- The second consisted in working on fictive TA projects. The presentations of each group can be watched below:
Photos: Tomas Michalek.