In Spring 2013, CSaP began working in collaboration with the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), to run an horizon scanning process examining potential interactions between emerging public policy issues in the UK and wider developments in science and technology, looking forward five to ten years.

This work engaged policy-makers from across government and stakeholders with specialist expertise in science policy issues (drawn from academia, business, and civil society). The expectation was that it would help raise awareness of the potential public dimensions of numerous science and technology policy challenges that are still ‘on the horizon’ in the UK.

The project had three distinct stages, as follows:

  • CSaP initially sought the input of a diverse cross-section of the policy-making community, whose insights were used to compile a long-list of specific, new and emerging public policy issues. These issues were more tangible than ‘grand challenges’ such as Living With Environmental Change or Energy Futures. For instance, they may have included the development of autonomous road vehicles, new types of disease in farming livestock, or the consequences of an increased use of personalised information in the delivery of public services.
  • This long list of issues were then be circulated to stakeholders with specialist knowledge of a range of scientific and technological domains, including scientists themselves, academics, industry representatives, science journalists, and others. These groups’ input helped CSaP to refine the long list of policy issues, and to draw links between specific areas of policy and novel developments in science and research.
  • Finally, once all these groups’ inputs had been collated, a refined list of policy issues, complete with science and technology dimensions, were circulated to all those who participated in stages one and two, the aim being to facilitate a vote on those issues that were deemed most worthy of in-depth discussion at a one-day workshop.

A multi-disciplinary advisory group were on hand throughout each stage of the process to provide external support, guidance and suggestions (see below for further details on this group’s composition).

Following a workshop in Cambridge, Sciencewise-ERC (the project’s funders) used the outputs to help map areas of policy in the UK where public dialogue with science could support more effective policy-making. POST then ran a follow-up workshop in Parliament to debate further the implications of the earlier workshop, helping to ensure that key findings were communicated as widely as possible.

Thirty issues were identified and published in PLOS in May 2014. The paper – Identifying the Science and Technology Dimensions of Emerging Public Policy Issues through Horizon Scanning – can be viewed here.

A further report was then published with Sciencewise-ERC in September 2014, and can be found here.

Advisory Group

  • Stephen Aldridge, Director for Analysis and Innovation, DCLG
  • Simon Burall, Director, Involve, and Head of Dialogue at the Sciencewise-ERC
  • David Cleevely, Founding Director and Executive Committee member, CSaP
  • Steven Hill, Head of the RCUK Strategy Unit
  • Pippa Hyam, Director, Good Partnership Ltd, and Public Involvement in Dialogue, Sciencewise-ERC
  • Tim Leeder, Programme Manager, Emerging Technologies and Industries, Technology Strategy Board
  • Tony McBride, Director of Science Policy Centre. Royal Society
  • Fabiana Scapolo, Team Leader, Foresight and Horizon Scanning, JRC, European Commission
  • Robert Sorrell, Vice President for Public Partnerships, BP
  • Andrew Stirling, Professor of Science & Technology Policy, SPRU, University of Sussex
  • Elizabeth Surkovic, Deputy Director, Science in Government, Government Office for Science
  • William Sutherland, Miriam Rothschild Chair in Conservation Biology, University of Cambridge
  • Jonny Wenthworth, Scientific Adviser, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST)
  • Rebecca Willis, Independent Researcher, Council Member of the Natural Environment Research Council
  • Jessica Bland, Technology Futures Research Analyst, Nesta UK