3. Copenhagen (10/2012)

The CONSIDER open panel workshop took place on 18 October 2012, during the second day of the 4S/EASST conference. It is worth noticing the relevance of this conference, as the Society for Social Studies of Science is the oldest and largest scholarly association devoted to understanding science and technology, and held its annual conference in collaboration with EASST (European Association for the Study of Science and Technology), thus organising a highly relevant meeting of scholars interested in the social studies of science and technology.

The workshop

The CONSIDER open panel was scheduled in two sessions of 90 minutes. Each session included three papers. Below is a summary of the topic and the core questions that were discussed:

1. 'Evaluation of CSO Involvement in Research Governance'

Bernd Carsten Stahl, De Montfort University (Presenter)

  • Will the project provide a normative definition of CSOs?

  • How can the aim of some CSOs who may be advocacy groups be accommodated in the project?

2. 'Legitimacy and success of civil society organisations' participation in research governance. Lessons from biomedicine and nanotechnology'

Peter Wehling, University of Augsburg (Presenter)

  • Are CSOs transformed in the process of participating in the research?

  • How can uninvited CSO participation be supported?

3. 'The formation of knowledge-based civil society organisations: Cases in Vietnam'

Quy-Hanh Nguyen, Centre for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn (Presenter)

  • What is the relationship between rural and urban CSOs? How does the knowledge flow in both directions?

  • How does the political context (Vietnam as a communist system) affect the CSOs?

  • Are there general lessons to be learned?

  • What does it mean to be “registered” as a CSO?

4. 'The NanoCap Project: NGO Participation in the EU nano debate'

Anna Lamprou, RPI (Presenter)

Anna presented on the NanoCap project, which brought together trade unions, NGOs and universities.

  • Many participants did not continue with the topic after the project. Why?

  • Is this model for participation that can be promoted and applied to other technologies?

5. 'Civil Society Organisations and Scientific Misconduct'

Lian Xinyan, Beijing, China (Presenter)

The presentation covered high profile cases of scientific misconduct in China.

  • Is there too much trust in science? Can the same issues arise in different political systems such as Europe?

  • Is there a space for CSOs to create counter-pressures?

6. 'Norms and Values in Technology research'

Stephen Rainey

The presentation explained how the CONSIDER project reflects on its assumptions and makes them explicit.

  • How does the CSO context outside the project affect the performance in research?


The various presentations and discussions highlighted a number of questions of immediate relevance to CONSIDER. Below are a number of questions that were highlighted or that arose with regards to CONSIDER that are worthy of further investigation:

  • Where do we draw the boundary of observation?

  • What are our (reflected) blind spots?

Definitions and conceptual questions

  • What is a CSO? (what is the public interest)

  • How do we distinguish our work from general participation?

  • What types of projects do we include, what constitutes a research project (as opposed to a development project)?


  • How crucial / central is the research to their interests?

  • Which resources do the CSOs have to engage in the research?

  • What is the role of the media in raising awareness and promoting CSO engagement?

Classification of the CSO involvement

  • Distinction between invited and un-invited participation

  • How can we narrow the definition?

  • How can we capture those who are not officially part of research projects?

Aspects of the local contexts: do they need to be included?

  • Legal environment

  • Political system

  • Local / national culture


  • What are unexpected outcomes of CSO involvement?

  • How are CSOs transformed during the research?


Being present at the leading conference on social sciences of science and technology, which is a key reference discipline of the project, was important in its own right. It supports the academic legitimacy of the project and allowed for external scrutiny and feedback on current progress.