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October 15, 2010

Euroscience is here to help both science and society

The crisis that has hit Europe is fresh in our minds - not only an economic crisis but also, more importantly, a crisis of institutions. The impact of monetary union has been vanishly small compared to the expectations it created. Now Europe understands it cannot compete with China, India or even the United States in terms of industrial production. Europe wants to become a knowledge-driven economy. The EU has long ago foreseen this and has established many funding schemes for innovation, one of which is the Framework Programme run by the Commission.

Currently we are running the seventh edition of the programme, FP7, which covers almost every scientific topic from space science to medical research. In addition, FP7 supports the Science in Society theme, which despite its relatively small budget has high hopes. It aims at bringing science closer to society, and vice versa - which is not as easy as it sounds.

Young people all around Europe have grown to dislike science in recent years, despite all the new gadgets in their lives. Ignorance of science and stereotypes of scientists are widespread. Worse, many people of all ages, educational level and income associate science science fiction. It is all rockets and extraterrestrials to them. No wonder they think science is a waste of time and money.

The SiS theme tries to explore the roots of this problematic relationship and to improve understanding on both sides. It does this primarily by funding innovative activities on science communication, science education and the policy on science dissemination. In this way, the EU emulates the Greek, French and German philosophers of the past. It brings openness to something that looks hermetic, creates dialogue instead of an inward-looking science monologue.

A new call for proposals for the SiS theme was published in July and focuses on these priorities:

Action Line Indicative Budget
1: A more dynamic governance of the science and society relationship EUR 16.4 million
2: Strengthening Potential, broadening horizons EUR 14 million
3: Science and Society Communicate EUR 1.5 million
4: Strategic Activities EUR 0.6 million

There are several subtopics in each line, the headings are somewhat obscure and the Commission’s source documents are famously hard to decipher. But don’t worry - if science engagement with a European dimension interests you, Euroscience is here to help! You can contact us and we can help you find partners, and develop your proposal. We might even join in.

Dr. Michael S. Arvanitis


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