Meeting of Minds: European Citizens’ Deliberation on Brain Science
"Meeting of Minds" is a trans-European project designed to inform the public about current and future research in brain science, and for them to assess this progress to associated ethical, social and legal implications.
For the first time, citizens from across Europe will come together with international experts, to discuss and compare their views on how upcoming developments in neuroscience will change our lives. Their recommendations will aid European and national policy making.
The project aims to gather public opinion and consensus in order to offer advice to policy makers on the use of new technology, medicines and techniques.
The project is based on citizens’ deliberation, which is a form of policy consultation. Policies based on citizens’ deliberation and recommendations should gain maximal public support, which is beneficial to both government and the public. In controversial issues, such as brain enhancing drug use by children, it is the best method we have at present to get a win-win outcome for all sides.
The innovative method is constructed to promote interaction between citizens with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds and yet guarantee an open and productive discussion. The project operates both on national and on European level, just like the issues that transcend national borders. Although new, the methodology is based on best practice in Europe and the United States. The European Citizens' Deliberation method allows citizens to hold a constructive and pro-active debate about the future of brain science at the earliest stage, before deeply polarized positions appear.
How does it work?
Nine European countries are involved in the project: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands and the UK. Each country will assemble a panel of citizens - 126 in total - to discuss the topics in depth and produce a consensus report. The general public, including citizens from other EU countries, will also be able to participate in the project via dialogue on a dedicated website: www.meetingmindseurope.org.
Throughout 2005 and 2006, the 126 citizens will meet three times in their own country and twice in Brussels:
- April–May 2005 - Introductory meetings: citizens met for the first time in each of the 9 participating countries. The objective was to bring together the citizens recruited to the national/regional citizens’ groups and to prepare them for the demands ahead. Together they explored the subject and engaged in an initial exchange of views in preparation for the First European Convention;
- 3-5 June 2005 - First European Citizens’ Convention: 123 citizens met in Brussels. The aims were to install the European citizens’ panel and to consider and frame the issues at stake in the field of brain science in order to come up with a common set of questions on aspects of brain science that they will further examine at national level;
- September- November 2005 - First and Second National Citizens’ Assessment Meeting. The objective is to produce national citizens’ assessment reports containing observations, opinions and recommendations for both the national and the European agenda. Citizens will also present and discuss the results of the assessment process with stakeholders, policy makers, the media and the public;
- 20-23 January 2006 - Second European Citizens’ Convention. The citizens will further develop the national conclusions and recommendations. The central goal of this convention is to jointly formulate European observations, opinions, recommendations and proposals to be presented to interested experts, stakeholders, policy-makers, the media and the general public in Europe. The results of these discussions will be incorporated in a European report that will be handed over to high-level European officials and representatives of the European scientific and research community at a public ceremony in January 2006.
Meeting of Minds is a European consortium of twelve organisations which are pooling their respective expertise and experience in public consultation. The King Baudouin Foundation, Belgium, is doing the general coordination. The Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) at the University of Westminster, London, UK is doing the internal evaluation and methodological coordination of Meeting of Minds.
The other partners are:
-The Flemish Institute for Science and Technology Assessment, Belgium,
-The Danish Board of Technology, Denmark,
-Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, France,
-Stiftung Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Germany,
-Fondation IDIS Citta’ della Scienza, Italy,
-Rathenau Institute, The Netherlands,
-Science Museum’s Dana Centre, UK,
-University of Debrecen, Medical and Health Science Centre, Hungary,
-Eugenides Foundation, Greece,
-University of Liège, Scientific and Public Involvement in Risk Allocations Laboratory SPIRAL, Belgium.
ECD is a two year project funded by the European Commission, under the 6th Framework Programme.
For more information about the project you can visit the Meeting of Minds website: