A mission on participatory sciences has been entrusted by the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research to François Houllier, CEO of INRA and President of the National Research Alliance for the Environment (AllEnvi) in order to promote its development. By the end of the year, he will propose an analysis of participatory science and a guide to good practice that will cover all scientific fields and include actions in schools: dExamples, opinions or proposals on science that will link researchers to citizens.
Participatory sciences correspond to research mechanisms in which civil society actors participate in the scientific production process. These collaborations between scientists and citizens, between laboratories, amateurs and associations, are developing and diversifying. Driven by the progress of science itself, by the interest of the objects and phenomena studied, by the willingness of various actors to act and by successful experiments, they are also stimulated by the potential offered by digital technology.
In parallel with projects that are multiplying in schools, initiatives are now federating several tens of thousands of French participants: the Seasons Observatory in the field of the environment, 65 million observers for biodiversity, the Positive energy house (COMEPOS) around the preservation of resources, or numerous devices related to health, human and social sciences, digital technology, universal sciences or agronomy. Beyond our borders, Fold.it, an experimental video game that allows the creation of new molecules, is a good example of a global success that illustrates the extent of the phenomenon.
To date, the participatory science mission has given rise to seven actions and mobilized more than 150 people: (1) bibliometric study, (2) analysis of a corpus of key publications, (3) workshop to collect experiences with associative actors, (4) workshop to collect expert analyses and forecasts, (5) targeted interviews, (6) public discussion circles and (7) open online consultation.
Workshop to collect experiences with associative actors
- Genesis, organization, goals: what factors of success and failure for participatory projects?
- From a development perspective, what are the limiting factors and needs?
with Marie-Christine Bagnati, MEDDE,
Camille François, Wikipedia France,
Bruno Strasser , University of Geneva,
Jean-Michel Fourniau, GIS Démocratie.
- What are the main issues in participatory science?
with Gilles Bœuf, MNHN,
Gaell Mainguy, CRI,
Lionel Larqué, Science-Society Alliance,
Bernard Ancori, Univ. of Strasbourg.
Before submitting his report next November in the form of a guide of good practices to promote their development, François Houllier wanted a day of exchanges open to all as a milestone. It took place on 30 July 2015 in Marciac (Gers) with the support of the Agrobiosciences Mission, thus making it possible to gather the testimonies of various actors and to discuss this research, which brings together citizens and researchers.
This day was organized around three phases. Firstly, a state of play and discussion circles brought together all the participants and mobilised 12 facilitators and rapporteurs. They allowed for a cross-fertilization of views and the production of knowledge around key questions - How do we represent participatory science? What expectations do they meet? What are the essential elements of a guide to good practice? —. After a presentation by the rapporteurs of the circles, two foreign specialists shed a singular light: Jacques Chevalier, Professor Emeritus at Carleton University in Ottawa (Canada), world-renowned for the scope of his work on "participatory action research" for thirty years, and Paris Chrysos, Vice-President of the Intellectual Property Organization of Greece, a specialist in industrial design. Five French specialists reacted and shared their diagnosis of the French situation. Didier Hoffschir, representative of the Ministry in charge of education and research, recalled his support for the mission of this day and more generally the importance of the relationship between science and society in the framework of the law on Higher Education and Research of 2013. François Houllier and Martine Bungener, President of the Reflection Group with the associations of malades de Inserm, concluded this day, which was itself participatory, while outlining the follow-up that will be given to it.
More than 90 people were present on 30 July in Marciac, providing a wealth of feedback and analysis that will feed into the forthcoming report. Participants from scientific bodies, field associations and local authorities, but also from companies, centres of scientific, technical and industrial culture, chambers of agriculture or schools, illustrated the wide variety of subjects and structures concerned by this phenomenon.
An online survey will be conducted from August 14 to October 10, 2015, and is aimed at all audiences concerned by participatory science: scientists, members and leaders of associations, teachers, elected officials, citizens, entrepreneurs, students, etc.
Its aim is to identify existing schemes and to collect concrete proposals or suggestions in order to prepare an operational guide of good practice. Using the elements gathered, it will have to answer three questions - How do we make it work? What pitfalls should be avoided? How to capitalize on what already exists? - and ultimately address six major groups: the public sphere (ministries, local authorities, etc.), research organisations, training institutions, civil society organisations (associations, companies, foundations, etc.), interested citizens, researchers.
Do you have experience, examples, opinions or proposals concerning science that link researchers to citizens?
Answer our survey until 10/10/2015 to contribute to the development of a guide of good practices that will allow for their further development and the identification of existing schemes.
The Participatory Sciences mission is led by François Houllier, CEO of INRA and President of AllEnvi. It is coordinated by Jean-Baptiste Merilhou-Goudard, Advisor to the INRA Presidency. Several INRA researchers and engineers are also involved in this work: Pierre-Benoît Joly and Muriel Mambrini first, and more broadly Matthieu Andro, Jean-Philippe Cointet, Pascale Frey-Klett, Odile Hologne, Jean-François Launay, Olivier Le Gall, Jean Masson, Jean-Luc Pujol, and Christophe Roturier.
The 150 actors already mobilized, in addition to the respondents to the online survey, are finally essential resources for the mission through their respective contributions.