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Public Engagement: Science Policy

  • By: S. Catherine Foster
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Democracy requires public participation, whether it is secondhand—electing legislators, presidents, and judges who make decisions—or firsthand, by voting on referenda or propositions that put decision making directly in the hands of those affected. Science policy, not only in the United States but also throughout the industrialized world, increasingly requires a more active role for citizens, including participation in policy decisions. The process involves a diverse set of participants, including scientists, policy makers, politicians, colleges and universities, national laboratories and other technology institutes, social scientists, public interest organizations, and citizens themselves. Potential new discoveries in the fields of bioengineering, nanotechnology, and other arenas have not only scientific issues, but also societal, ethical, and even moral issues that should be part of the public debate. The issue ...

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