Optimizing Public Understanding of Science and Technology in Europe (OPUS)

Duration: 01/2000 - 06/2003

Final Report OPUS

Sponsors: European Union, 5th Framework Programme - "Science & Society"

Project collaborators: Ulrike Felt; Martina Erlemann; Annina Müller


The pervasiveness of science and technology’s influence in every aspect of modern life implies a real necessity for citizens to understand and appreciate the contributions, and the limitations, of what research and technological development can provide for human society and the natural environment. The barriers to communication between researchers and the public are complex, derived from a combination of social, cultural, educational and practical inhibitors. At European level, the barriers are even greater and more complex. OPUS -- Optimising Public Understanding of Science -- is a three-year project, funded by the European Commission (Improving Human Potential programme), which addresses these issues through comparative research on Public Understanding of Science and analysis at European level. The project examines the underpinning theories of public awareness and public understanding, as well as seeking out examples of particularly successful, tested instruments to improve the process of informing and engaging the public. National experiences in the six participating countries, and elsewhere in Europe and the world, will be reviewed. A European-wide analysis and synthesis will be undertaken to develop practical resources for students, professionals and policymakers that will help to improve the process of building public engagement with science and technology, but also scientists' awareness about the publics that are confronted with technoscientific change.

ProjektpartnerInnen: Austria, Belgium, France, Portugal, Sweden, UK

Final Project Report: Felt, Ulrike, ed. 2003. O.P.U.S - Optimizing Public Understanding of Science. Vienna: Department of Philosophy of Science and Social Studies of Science