Strand 1 of the Science, Trust and Public Engagement project reviews key lessons of public dialogues through a review and analysis of the literature, supplemented by interviews and a workshop with experts and participants in these processes.
Problems and Purpose
The Science, Trust, and Public Engagement explores future pathways to good governance, seeking to review key lessons about the governance of science, emerging technology and innovation policy since 2000. It will do this by interviewing institutions and champions of public dialogue, accountability and social responsibility (Strand 1) while also supporting a series of action learning mini projects on emerging ways to embed societal accountability in policy (Strand 2). 
Key objectives of Strand 1 of the project are to better understand trends and opportunities for the role of public engagement in the governance of policy involving science and technology over the next 10 years. The project will:
- Synthesise insights from the last ten years of practice (including Sciencewise-ERC and other public engagement initiatives) to identify what has worked, what gaps exist, and what new ideas, challenges and opportunities are emerging
- Horizon scan future and existing science and emerging technology topic areas that are likely to spark both controversy and debate through to 2020
- Identify potential focal points for improved public engagement processes, particularly in the context of recent coalition governance priorities
- Explore possible institutional reforms and innovations for developing these governance processes and mechanisms in relation to science and technology 
Background History and Context
As part of a larger project on ‘Science, Trust and Public Engagement – exploring future pathways to good governance’, ‘Science and public trust’ has been established to explore pathways to good governmental governance of science and technology policy.
The new coalition government is transforming the relationship between civil society and the state. Under the banner of the Big Society there has been a focus on openness, decentralisation, smaller government and greater civic responsibilities. This, together with spending constraints and the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, means that the ways in which science based institutions consider dialogue is likely to change radically over the coming years.
Specifically, these changes not only mean less funding for public engagement, they will fundamentally shift the strategic environment into which decisions play out. In short, the priorities of science based institutions will change. This could mean a host of things: from scientific priorities being shaped explicitly by a greater focus on economic and societal challenges, to new modes of regulation. All of this will mediate the relationship of science and society. 
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The Steering Group for this project is chaired by Dr Robert Doubleday from the University of Cambridge, and is a sub-set of the Sciencewise-ERC Steering Group.
The project was delivered by:
TNS BMRB provides public policy research and insight to government and not-for-profit clients.
The Royal Society: The Science Policy Centre provides scientific advice to policy makers.
University of Durham's Professor Phil Macnaghten participated in reviewing dialogue experience, as did University of East Anglia's Dr. Jason Chilvers. University of Cardiff Professor Tom Horlick-Jones is leading the evaluation of this work 
Sciencewise-ERC is a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills funded programme to bring scientists, government and the public together to explore the impact of science and technology in our lives. It helps Government departments and agencies commission and use public dialogue to inform policy making, involving science and technology issues. Its core aim is to develop the capacity of Government to carry out good dialogue, to gather and disseminate good practice, have successful two-way communications with the public and other stakeholders, and to embed the principles of good dialogue into internal Government processes.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Expert Interviews: 40 participants
Workshop: 21 participants who had previously been interviewed
Two interviewees per organisation were interviewed to help evaluate internal consistency. Organisation types consisted of
- Science funders (4 organisations, 8 interviews)
- Government departments (4 organisations, 9 interviews)
- Regulators (4 organisations, 8 interviews)
- Learned societies (2 organisations, 4 interviews)
- Businesses/ those involved in technology transfer (4 organisations, 5 interviews)
- Other government agencies, including local government (4 organisations, 5 interviews)
- NGOs (1 organisation, 1 interview) 
Methods and Tools Used
The approach involved four complementary stages:
Stage 1 included a literature review of findings from previous dialogue processes and related evaluations.
Stage 2 involved interviews with 40 respondents in science organisations. The interviews focused on strategic issues facing the organisation, current governance arrangements, and the extent to which the organisation had been responsive to public concerns about science, as identified through stage one of the research. This stage also included an ‘in-depth review’ process in two organisations (a regulator and a funder) to explore governance issues with a greater range of staff.
Stage 3 involved a workshop at the Royal Society. Here, emerging findings were discussed with respondents who had been involved in the research to help validate findings and generate views on potential ways forward.
Stage 4 involved analysis and reporting. Specifically, a framework approach was used for the analysis of transcripts from the interviews. The interview findings are the focus of this report. Findings from the literature review and the workshop were considered in relation to the interviews in the conclusions section of the report.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The deliberative elements of this project were as follows:
Stage 2: Interviews with decision makers in science organisations
The centrepiece of the project involved 40 interviews with respondents in 23 science organisations in the UK, with typically two interviews per organisation. Specifically, thirty-eight interviews were conducted with senior decision-makers - typically a Chair, CEO, Director of Strategy and/or Policy, or senior civil servant. The remaining two interviews were conducted with respondents who had an operational or delivery focus in the organisation, particularly those involved in the conduct of public engagement exercises.
Thirty-eight of the interviews were completed via telephone, with one interview conducted face-to-face and one through email correspondence (due to limited availability of the respondent). All research was conducted between January and March 2011.
Stage 3: The Royal Society Workshop
A workshop was organised by and held at the Royal Society with 21 participants who had taken part in the interviews. The aim of the workshop was to gain views of respondents on emerging findings from the study and also to begin discussion around potential ways forward. The workshop agenda was as follows:
- Welcome and overview of the study.
- A presentation and discussion on emerging study findings.
- Discussion of the extent to which issues highlighted in the presentation were important for organisations.
- Discussion of what organisations could do individually and collectively to address public concerns.
Notes from the sessions were taken and have been taken into account in the conclusions section of this report. Currently, the Royal Society is considering the outputs from the workshop, with a view to potentially publishing a document on its findings. 
Main findings from the review
The report’s main conclusion is that relationships between science organisations and the public are changing, but that more work needs to be done to improve governance processes. Science organisations are becoming more open. They talk more readily about the need to hear the views of the public and communicate the uncertainties of science. But organisational pressures still prevent public values from being reflected in policies, procedures and practice. Public engagement activities, and large dialogue processes in particular, have had an impact. But they are still largely seen as a bolt-on to established structures rather than the start of a new sort of relationship with the public. There is therefore a need to move beyond thinking of ‘public engagement’ in isolation, to talk about governance in the public interest.
The report has a number of more specific findings:
1. There was a stated interest in involving the public to inform strategy and policy, but not involving the public in particular major decisions.
2. Governance is expert-led. Power is concentrated at very senior levels. Leaders of organisations have a large influence on policy cultures. Efforts to engage and reflect public values remain largely marginal. There are a number of important strategic issues facing organisations. Budget cuts and a change of Government priorities create pressure to close down the framing of problems, shutting out public voices. However, resource constraints have also increased the focus on and appetite for collaboration and there is scope to build on this for better governance.
3. Cultures of science-based organisations reflect tensions between being innovative and being evidence-based, and between being expert and open. Organisations in which public engagement has an impact on decision-making tend to be those willing to take risks, with supportive leadership and decentralised decision-making.
4. Organisations saw their key accountabilities to scientists, government and business and routinely engaged these groups to inform their decisions. The public was seen as a lower level accountability and was not engaged through normal business practices.
5. There was greater support to engage the public to inform policies and priorities, than engage them in specific funding decisions.
6. Public dialogue exercises have had most impact where there is senior support. Clear goals, a specific decision context and a commitment to account for findings are also very important.
7. Openness and transparency are necessary but not sufficient conditions for good governance. There were organisations that were very transparent but did not effectively account for public views in decision- making.
8. Closed organisational cultures present a systemic risk of governance failure. They are more likely to regard publicly controversial activities as normal and ignore ethical dimensions. 
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
There is limited information on the long term impact of the review, however the final report outlines the following recommendations produced from the process.
- Public engagement for policymaking should be used by organisations not as a standalone exercise, but as part of good governance, strategy and decision-making. There should be strategic consideration of how it complements science governance processes such as openness and transparency, regulation and relationships to business.
- Organisations need to consider whether policies impact on the public interest, how they should account for this and the consequences of not doing so. It is an important strategic issue for organisations to consider whether they want to lead or react to future public debates on science.
- Pressure to improve governance should be targeted at the most senior level in organisations. Leadership organisations – such as science academies and government – have an opportunity to help encourage, persuade and compel others to account for the public interest in terms of science governance.
- Public engagement should enable organisations to ‘reframe’ policy issues beyond risks and benefits of technologies; to better consider social outcomes and the role of technologies in achieving these goals.
- Greater use should be made of engagement as part of the innovation pathway, both through open source development and co-creation of technology products, but also through enabling people to help redesign organisational governance processes.
- In light of these findings, Sciencewise-ERC should help organisations better account for public dialogue in terms of the processes of science governance. As part of this, the organizers recommended that tailored findings are produced (in confidence) for each organisation that took part in this study to enable a new conversation around the future role of public engagement in governance. 
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The evaluation report describes limitations in its capacity to evaluate the interview process, however it reaches the following conclusions with regards to the workshop element of the process:
The workshop provided a valuable space for senior representatives from a number of significant stakeholders to come together to hear the initial findings from this project, to meet other relevant parties, and to have some discussion about the central issues of engagement and governance. However, there were a number of weaknesses in the design and delivery of the event that lessened the value of the event, including a lack of clarity of purpose and of time, a lack of materials to aid in assessing the questions for discussion, and limited recording of the content of the dialogue that took place. 
 TNS-BMRB (2011) “Science, governance and public engagement” TNS-BMRB Report, November 2011
 Sciencewise (2017) “Science, Trust and Public Engagement” [ONLINE] Available at: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20170110132922/http://www.sciencewise-erc.org.uk/cms/science-trust-and-public-engagement-2/
 Watermeyer, R, Rowe, G, Paddock, J, Murcott, A, Horlick-Jones, T (2012) “Review of a BIS/Sciencewise-ERC Project: Schiece, Trust and Public Engagement: Exploring Future Pathways to Good Governance (Phase 1)”, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences, November 2012