From Citizen Science to Citizen Forums for Science — A distributed network approach for public participation in policy and decision-making

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Monday, 5 January 2015: 5:15 PM
226C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Mahmud A. Farooque, Arizona State University, Washington, DC; and D. Cavalier

Beyond involving citizens in the conduct of everyday science, citizen forums engage publics in respectful bi-directional conversations and enable them to learn and make recommendations about scientific issues, based on their own questions, interests, knowledge, values and personal experience. By engaging lay citizens in deliberations, we depart from the “knowledge deficit” mode of one-directional science communication and capture key principles and issues that need attention. We bring forward new perspectives on public views and values for decision-makers not otherwise captured through expert advice, stakeholder input or public opinion polling. In this presentation we describe Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) network, which brings together academic research, informal science education, citizen science programs and non-partisan policy analysis to engage citizens on decision-making related to science and technology policy. ECAST creates peer-to-peer public deliberations to inform citizens about and solicit their input on science and technology policy issues, in an effort to more fully inform decision-making. Formally introduced in April of 2010, ECAST has undertaken two pilot citizen consultations projects — US component of the "2012 World Wide Views (WWViews) on Biodiversity" and "Informing NASA's Asteroid Initiative: A Citizen Forum". WWViews, which provided input to the Eleventh Council of Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), was organized in four US cities (Boston, Washington, Denver and Phoenix). Informing NASA's Asteroid Initiative, which is providing an input to guide NASA's Asteroid Initiative's direction and public engagement activities, is being organized in two US cities (Boston and Phoenix) and also online.