Special Initiative for Citizen Engagement

“Citizens have a right - and are expected - to be involved in the crucial decisions of what their futures will look like and how science and technology can contribute to its betterment”1

"As outlined in the framework for Responsible, Research and Innovation (RRI), the grand  challenges facing society will have a better chance of being tackled if all relevant actors are fully engaged in the co-construction of innovative solutions, products and services. Thus RRI is being developed in order to foster the creation of a research and innovation policy driven by the needs of society and engaging all actors via inclusive participatory approaches.

The Special Initiative for Citizen Contribution promoted by Atomium Culture aims to assess how media can engage the public at large in a two-way dialogue about science-related issues in order to develop a more participatory way to develop science policy at European level.

The results of the Initiative will be submitted to the European Commission as a contribution to the preparation of the topics of the first call for proposals of Horizon 2020 (notably the 'Engagement' part of the challenge 'Inclusive, Innovative and Secure Societies' in the Commission's proposal (former SiS))”.

For more information about Horizon 2020 (http://ec.europa.eu/research/horizon2020/index_en.cfm?pg=home&video=none)
For more information about Responsible Research and Innovation
(http://ec.europa.eu/research/science-society/document_library/pdf_06/responsible-research-and-innovation-leaflet_en.pdf)
For more information about Atomium Culture
(www.atomiumculture.eu)"


1. Report of an Expert Group to the European Commission, The Role of Community Research Policy in the Knowledge-based Economy, p. 37

More Information

Science and mathematics is all around us. Even if you are not a nuclear physicist or a theoretical mathematician, having a sound basis in science and mathematics is fundamental for understanding the world we live in.  Richard Feynman defined science as “A way of trying not to fool yourself.” Funny, but true. Feynman was trying to get across the idea that science is our best way of understanding the natural world.

However, according to Eurobarometer results, despite clear interest in science and maths by young Europeans and their understanding of its importance to society they are less keen on studying these subjects. Why is this?

For more information about current debates:

Science Education Now: a Renewed Pedagogy for the Future of Europe (http://ec.europa.eu/research/science-society/document_library/pdf_06/report-rocard-on-science-education_en.pdf)

Science Education in Europe: Critical Reflections (http://www.fisica.unina.it/traces/attachments/article/149/Nuffield-Foundation-Osborne-Dillon-Science-Education-in-Europe.pdf)

Scientix (www.scientix.eu)

European School Net (http://europeanschoolnet.org)

From Science Education Now: a Renewed Pedagogy for the Future of Europe

In recent years, many studies have highlighted an alarming decline in young people’s interest for key science studies and mathematics. Despite the numerous projects and actions that are being implemented to reverse this trend, the signs of improvement are still modest. Unless more effective action is taken, Europe’s longer term capacity to innovate, and the quality of its research will also decline. Furthermore, among the population in general, the acquisition of skills that are becoming essential in all walks of life, in a society increasingly dependent on the use of knowledge, is also under increasing threat.

Since the origins of the declining interest among young people for science studies are found largely in the way science is taught in schools, this will be the main focus. In this context, whereas the science education community mostly agrees that pedagogical practices based on inquiry-based methods are more effective, the reality of classroom practice is that in the majority of European countries, these methods are simply not being implemented.

The current initiatives in Europe actively pursuing the renewal of science education through “inquiry based” methods show great promise but are not of the scale to bring about substantial impact, and are not able to exploit fully the potential European level support for dissemination and integration.

The findings and recommendations of the experts group are summarized below.

A reversal of school science-teaching pedagogy from mainly deductive to inquiry- based methods provides the means to increase interest in science.

Inquiry-based science education (IBSE) has proved its efficacy at both primary and secondary levels in increasing children’s and students’ interest and attainments levels while at the same time stimulating teacher motivation. IBSE is effective with all kinds of students from the weakest to the most able and is fully compatible with the ambition of excellence. Moreover IBSE is beneficial to promoting girls’ interest and participation in science activities. Finally, IBSE and traditional deductive approaches are not mutually exclusive and they should be combined in any science classroom to accommodate different mindsets and age-group preferences.

Renewed school’s science-teaching pedagogy based on IBSE provides increased opportunities for cooperation between actors in the formal and informal arenas.

Due to the nature of its practices, IBSE pedagogy is more likely to encourage relationships between the stakeholders of both formal and informal education. And it creates opportunities for involving firms, scientists, researchers, engineers, universities, local actors such as cities, associations, parents and other kinds of local resources.


Teachers are key players in the renewal of science education. Among other methods, being part of a network allows them to improve the quality of their teaching and supports their motivation.

Networks can be used as an effective component of teachers’ professional development, are complementary to more traditional forms of in-service teacher training and stimulate morale and motivation.

In Europe, these crucial components of renewal of science teaching practices are being promoted by two innovative initiatives, “Pollen” and “Sinus-Transfer” that are proving themselves capable of increasing children’s interest and attainments in science. With some adaptation these initiatives could be implemented effectively on a scale that would have the desired impact.

The level of funding required is in accordance with the scope of the funding instruments of the European Union.

Terms & Conditions

This Terms of Use Agreement ("Agreement") together with the documents referred to on it informs you about the terms on which you may make use of Special Initiative for Citizen Engagement Platform (hereafter referred to as "the Site" or "Site").

In accessing the Site, you (hereafter referred to as "you" or "the User") agree to abide by the terms and conditions (hereafter referred to as "TOS") set out on this page.

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1. Information about us

The Special Initiative for CitizenEngagement is a pilot project promoted by Atomium Culture togetherwith Der Standard, El País, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, TheIrish Times and il Sole 24Ore. This project is funded by the EuropeanCommission's Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, underthe Science in Society Programme. The views and opinions expressed onthis platform are the sole responsibility of the author and do notnecessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.

Atomium Culture (hereinafterreferred to as "AC") is an International Non-Profit Organisation(Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif) registered in Belgiumunder company number BE0881395943 and having our registered office at4, rue Louis Hymans, 1050 Brussels, Belgium.

AC is a Permanent Platform thatbrings together leading European Universities, Media and Businessesto promote concrete projects to support research and innovation.

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25. Titles

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Do you love science and maths?
According to results of the Eurobarometer young people have a clear interest in science and maths. Yet they are less keen on studying these subjects. Why is this?
Did you enjoy maths and science in school? What could have made these topics more interesting? Are recent developments making these subjects more current?
We want to hear your opinion and ideas.
* a) Do you agree that maths and science education is fundamental for preparing our children for tomorrow’s world?
* b) On a scale from 1-10 (10 is the highest score) how would you evaluate science education in schools today?
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
* c) What is your main concern when it comes to science education?
* d) How much do you think our education system should change to take account of new internet and online tools of learning (from a scale from 1-10, where 1 is “not at all” and 10 is “completely”)?
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10