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III Building Capacities for Cross-European TA


Making Technology Assessment Accessible to New Players

Pierre Delvenne, Benedikt Rosskamp, Ciara Fitzgerald and Frйdйric Adam

Abstract: Delvenne et al. present theoretical considerations about the pedagogy of technology assessment (TA) in general and the summer school format in particular, which was chosen as a platform for teaching TA in the PACITA project. The PACITA summer school programme was designed to encourage the uptake and use of TA rationale and methods by various types of professionals involved in science, technology or innovation policy. The recruitment strategies, the format

of the presentations, and so on of the two summer schools are presented. The authors argue that as the 'responsible innovation' agenda gains traction among policy makers, societal actors and academics, education initiatives such as the TA summer school can have an important role to play in shaping understandings of this new form of governance.

Klьver, Lars, Rasmus Шjvind Nielsen, and Marie Louise Jшrgensen, eds. Policy-Oriented Technology Assessment Across Europe: Expanding Capacities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. doi: 10.1057/9781137561725.0020.

This chapter reports on the two PACITA summers schools, which were aimed at teaching TA as well as enhancing mutual-learning activities. The first summer school concentrated on 'Renewable Energy Systems' role and use of PTA' and it was held in Liège, Belgium, in June 2012. The second summer school addressed the topic of 'Ageing and Technology' and was held in Cork in June 2014. We describe the rationale and format of the summer school in order to present a comprehensive account of how it introduced TA, both its rational and its methods, to a new audience. We argue that as the responsible innovation agenda continues to gain traction among policy makers, societal actors and academics, education initiatives such as TA summer schools can have an important role to play in the future of the governance of science, technology and innovation.

Background and rationale

Training and learning activities in TA encompass a great variety of approaches, including embedding TA-like courses into engineering and natural scientific curricula or TA practitioners training. In the former case, the objective is to raise students' awareness of social and ethical dimensions relative to technology development and implementation. But in the latter case the objective is to exchange best practices and, by doing so, constituting a community of practitioners and even a scientific (inter)discipline that goes beyond the established community of TA practitioners. However, along these already existing activities, which are organized and implemented in a number of ways in European countries, the PACITA project stressed that in a context in which knowledge-based policy making is increasingly needed, very few TA training activities directly target policy makers. This creates two major difficulties. First, a broad set of policy makers and innovation actors from countries where TA institutions are already established, when they are aware of what TA is, might not be conscious that they could use already existing TA knowledge to address the policy-making issues that they are confronted with. Second, in countries where TA practices are not institutionalized as such, policy makers may fail to support the need to further establish such activities, more by lack of knowledge about TA rather than by lack of enthusiasm. This calls for a need to provide them with convincing evidence that TA knowledge is of valuable potential for their daily work. In what follows, we argue that the further development of training activities such as TA summer schools is a relevant tool for doing so.

In PACITA, the rationale of TA summer schools was to broadly consider potential users of TA knowledge, such as policy makers, civil society organizations, scientists, science communicators and journalists, as well as civil servants, and to sensitize them to the role and added value of TA to their working practices and organizations' objectives. In line with PACITA's aim to expand the TA landscape in European countries which do not count institutionalized TA bodies, summer schools explicitly (though not exclusively) targeted new players in such countries – for example, Belgium, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Portugal, Ireland, Hungary or the Czech Republic. Furthermore, the summer schools also engaged participants from countries with established TA institutions who do not always recognize their TA activities because they believe they do not appear as the main addressee of TA activities. Lastly, the summer schools offered an opportunity to open up and sensitize TA and knowledge-based policy making beyond the fifteen countries and regions represented in the PACITA consortium. The events attracted participants from EU-28, Africa, Australia, South-America and Asia.

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