Living Knowledge Conference – Presentation of the organisers of the conference

lundi 5 mars 2007

We are five partners who are co-organising the conference. You will find here short descriptions of our organisations and the links to our websites.International Science Shops Network, Fondation Sciences Citoyennes, International Network of Engineers and Scientists for global responsibility, Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation, Unité Transformations Sociales et Politiques liées au Vivant

International Science Shop Network

Science Shops are small entities that carry out scientific research in a wide range of disciplines – usually free of charge and – on behalf of citizens and local civil society. The fact that Science shops respond to civil society’s needs for expertise and knowledge is a key element that distinguish them from other knowledge transfer mechanisms.

Science Shops define themselves as ‘a unit that provides independent, participatory research support in response to concerns experienced by civil society’. For the most part, these units belong to universities, though some are organised as separate NGOs or non-for-profit companies. Science Shops combine research (and teaching where applicable) with service to society. Civil society organisations can simply approach a Science Shop with a problem in which they feel some research would be helpful for them to help solve their problem. The Science Shop staff will then transfer these requests into research projects and find students and/or staff to work on these projects, in close contact with the « client ». The results are handed over to the client and the Science Shop staff will support the use of these scientific results by the client and will help to formulate follow-up proposals, both those relevant to the client and those relevant to further research. This process means that new knowledge is generated, or at least existing knowledge is combined and adapted to context.

Science Shops use the term « science » in its broadest sense, incorporating social and human sciences, as well as natural, physical, engineering and technological sciences. The word « provide » in the definition means that Science Shops make their services available on an affordable basis, free of financial barriers. Furthermore, Science Shops seek to create equitable and supportive partnerships with civil society organisations.

As a mission statement, Science Shops seek to : i.provide civil society with knowledge and skills through research and education ; ii.provide their services on an affordable basis ; iii.promote and support public access to, and public influence on, science and technology ; iv.create equitable and supportive partnerships with civil society organizations ; v.enhance understanding among policymakers and education and research institutions of the research and education needs of civil society ; vi.enhance the transferable skills and knowledge of students, community representatives and researchers.

A variety of other tasks are sometimes performed by Science Shops, such as regular university teaching and research, contract research, education and trainings for civil society, et cetera. Living Knowledge is the international network of science shops and comparable organisations. It is a meeting place for all organisations and persons interested in community based research and science and society relations. Living Knowledge offers a forum for the exchange of information, expertise and ideas.

Fondation Sciences Citoyennes

Founded in 2002, Fondation Sciences Citoyennes is a Paris-based think tank on the democratisation of research, science, technology and innovation. It aims at redistributing research and expertise capacities to social and citizens’ movements. Sciences Citoyennes organises and participates to public debates and conferences, publishes background papers on actual issues of « science in society », analyses critically research policy from local to international level. It works with organisations from civil society, researchers and public research institutions, policy makers and administrators, especially from the European Commission. Sciences Citoyennes works closely with the four other co-organisors.

The Citizen’s Science Foundation aims at supporting and prolonging the current movement of democratic and civil appropriation of science in order to put it at the service of the common good.

Its objectives are, in particular : => To increase the capacity for research and expertise of civil society, NGOs, consumerists, citizen-movements and trade unions. Sciences Citoyennes supports the establishment of a « scientific third sector » that is able to meet the growing social and ecological demands, which are sometimes neglected by the major scientific orientations.

=> To stimulate the freedom of expression and debate in the scientific world, to support whistle blowers and the development of public controversies and « hybrid forums » on key scientific issues. In total contrast with the fear of public intervention and with technocratic thinking, pluralism and controversy are the source not only of a better exploration of possible worlds and, therefore, of better decisions, but also of an active appropriation of scientific knowledge by the public.

=> To promote the democratic elaboration of scientific and technical choices. Sciences Citoyennes supports the organisation of public debates on public policies regarding research, technology and expertise. It is analysing the new methods of deliberation that have increased in number during recent years in order to support those that further a genuine technical democracy.

International Network of engineers and scientists for global responsibility

The International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES) is an independent non-profit-organization concerned about the impact of science and technology on society. INES was founded in 1991.
INES`efforts focus on disarmament and international peace, ethics, justice and sustainable development. INES is affiliated with the United Nations an with UNESCO as a NON-Governmental Organization (NGO). In 13 years, INES has become a network of over 90 member organizations and individual members in 40 countries.

INES works on different projects (protection of ethical engagement – whistleblowers, ethical responsibility of scientists and enterprises ; non-proliferation and disarmament of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction and relevant delivery systems ; etc.), organises international conferences, supports and launches international campaigns.

Extract from the INES Founding Statement, Berlin 1991

« Large stocks of weapons for mass destruction, overexploitation of common limited resources, and an unbalanced world economy provide fundamental challenges to human civilization an may even threaten its further existence….

Gross inequalities and injustice between and within industrialized and developing countries undermine economic, social and environmental security…

Engineers and scientists play a key role, both in the processes that threaten international security and those that provide hope for the future….

It is now time to establish a multidisciplinary international network of engineers and scientists to promote the following aims :

to encourage and facilitate international communication among engineers and scientists seeking to promote international peace and security, justice and sustainable development and working for a responsible use of science and technology.

This includes :

to work for the reduction of military spending and for the transfer of resources to the satisfaction of basic needs,
to promote environmentally sound technologies while taking long-term effects into account,

to enhance the awareness of ethical principles among engineers and scientists and to support those who have been victimized for acting upon such principles. »

The Centre for the Sociology of Innovation

The Centre for the Sociology of Innovation was founded in 1967 and has a staff of 30 persons. Its task is to study scientific, technical and cultural innovation while striking a cautious but fruitful balance between scientific research work, teaching and expert assessments.

Combining the social and technical aspects of research projects
The CSI closely monitors the content of the projects and activities it surveys, conducting detailed analysis of its productions. With the sociology of science, law and culture as its cornerstone, research focuses on the dynamics of research in industry, the anthropology of research centres, a social and technical analysis of innovation and scientometrics. Research themes have evolved and since the 1980s have centred on relatively autonomous topics :

evaluation of research and innovation policies (in the public and private sectors and in associations) ;

the anthropology of science and technology ;

a socio-economic study of the patterns of development of various sections of the public, markets and uses (according to various fields : cultural assets, products and services).

Current scientific axes

The CSI’s research interests have gradually developed to take account of the consequences of its approach to traditional issues in the social sciences such as the definition of actors and action, the production of political wills, the forging of subjectivities, and the formation of communities and identities.

Research on technical and economic networks has been conducted for several years with the aim of assessing their dynamics more clearly in order to move on from mere evaluation towards forecasting : emphasis has been placed on methods of reciprocal definition of the actors and their relationships, the analysis of coordination mechanisms brought into play (between laboratories, SMEs, major groups and politicians), and the theoretical implications which this networking process has for the means and justification of public action and for the practical redefinition of political instruments that promote innovation.

This field of health was chosen on account of the important part played by the user, both as a patient and as an increasingly active player in health policy and the definition of sickness, and the importance of technical skills and equipment.

On the basis of studies aimed at drawing the attention of non-specialists to scientific issues and the contribution which the layman can make to technological controversies, particularly in the fields of the environment marked by the appearance of the notion of risk, the task at hand is to raise, once again, the traditional question of technical democracy and, more particularly, to tackle, with the experience of the sociology of technology, the issues, frequently debated in political science, of institutional innovations and forms of public debate. Research focuses on « hybrid forums » and the environment ; and on « nature policies ».

Social and Political Transformations related to Life Sciences and Life Forms

The « Social and Political Transformations related to Life Sciences and Life Forms » (TSV) research Unit was created within the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in January 2003. It brings together about 15 members (researchers, post-docs and PhD students) from different disciplines : sociology, history and philosophy.

The main aim of TSV is to analyse changes in the regimes of production of knowledge in the life sciences and related transformations in forms of government as well as in market mechanisms.

The TSV research Unit is an associated laboratory of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). It is a member of the European Network of Excellence PRIME and of the Paris Federation on Research, Innovation and Society (IFRIS).