Public views gathered on bioenergy
1 June 2012
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is launching a new project to gather views on bioenergy research, with support from Sciencewise-ERC. The dialogue and engagement project will ensure that contemporary public views, concerns and aspirations are taken into account by research funders and researchers as more sustainable bioenergy solutions are developed.
Bioenergy is an area of research that could contribute significantly in response to the challenges of replacing fossil fuels with sustainable energy. BBSRC funds a range of bioenergy research, for example the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC) represents a £24M investment in research spanning the bioenergy pipeline from growing biomass to fermentation for biofuels.
There are many opportunities and options for the application of bioenergy research and it will be important that the field remains responsive to public needs and concerns as the science develops. The engagement project has been funded for a year initially to develop an ongoing, informed discussion between BBSRC, its research community and a range of stakeholders, including members of the public.
The Sciencewise-ERC funding will facilitate development of a novel, flexible model for dialogue and engagement that can adapt to the changing science and provide an ongoing and evolving conversation. In recent years BBSRC has made use of large-scale dialogues which happen as a one-off project, and often use market research-based techniques for public engagement. However, they tend to be limited on a number of levels including; lack of flexibility and innovation; the audience is confined to representative groups; and there is a limited number of researchers who can be involved.
In this new project, BBSRC will explore the possibilities for tackling these limitations by producing an ongoing programme of engagement events that are informed by a flexible and evolving toolkit resource. This will enable feedback from each engagement activity to accumulate as science and policy in the area of bioenergy move on. Feedback from different events will build into a body of evidence that can influence researchers and policymakers in the area of bioenergy.
BBSRC has explored and developed a variety of approaches to help ensure that there is awareness of public attitudes to bioscience research. For more information, visit: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/engagement/dialogue