Modern Citizenship or Policy Dead End? Evaluating the Need for Public Participation in Science Policy Making, and Why Public Meetings May Not Be the Answer
By Dietram A. Scheufele
A paper by Dietram A. Scheufele, fall 2010 fellow, analyzes the recent renaissance that consensus conferences and public meetings have experienced regarding the discussion of controversial emerging technologies. First, it outlines the policy history of consensus conferences and other forms of public meetings. Second, it outlines claims made by proponents about the potential of consensus conferences and related efforts to create a two‐way dialogue among lay publics, experts and policy makers, to discover and debate relevant ethical, legal and social concerns. Finally, the paper provides a comprehensive empirical review of how consensus conferences and related efforts have lived up to the hopes of their proponents, or – in most cases – have fallen short or even produced results that are counterproductive to the notion of a productive public debate.