DeCiDe: Deliberative Citizens' Debates in European science centres and museums
DeCiDe (2004-2006) developed a new way to engage the public in debate about ethical and legal aspects of life science research.
The project produced a kit to facilitate structured debate. The kit includes a series of cards representing facts, issues, policies and scenarios (participants can add their own arguments as required) that help participants to visualise the debate on a discussion board and reach consensus. An instruction booklet and background information are also available.
The kit allows groups of citizens to carry out what DeCiDe describes as a ‘self-supporting deliberative debate on the topic of choice'. The topics covered are:
• pre-implantation genetic testing
• stem cell research
• new drugs for HIV
• brain research
The initial objective of DeCiDe was to engage a diverse audience of adults and young people in several European countries through special events in science museums and other institutions.
Between January 2006 and July 2006 over 1,200 people attended 64 DeCiDe events in 12 EU countries. The DeCiDe materials were translated into 12 languages.
The kit designed by DeCiDe was subsequently used in the FUND project which further developed the concept of participatory activities and public dialogue in scientific issues.
Country: Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, United Kingdom
Coordinator: At-Bristol, UK, /www.at-bristol.org.uk
Target groups: general public, primary school students, secondary school students, teachers
Topic: Biology, Biomedicine, Biotechnology, Medical sciences, Nanotechnology
Start year: 2004
End year: 2006
Contact person: John Durant, At-Bristol, john.durant (at) at-bristol
The research activities of the project centred on the role of dialogue during and after the deliberation process. The project addressed the following questions:
• How does dialogue influence decision-making?
• Is the stimulus to carry on the debate long-lasting or is it essentially limited to direct engagement in the game event?
A typical DeCiDe session involves small groups of 6-8 people. They read, discuss and debate about one particular science issue. At the end of the event, the participants decide what policies should be adopted regarding the topic.
The game itself usually consists of three parts: during the first part, the participants search for background information about the topic, then they discuss and present different views on the issue. In the third part, the players try to formulate their common opinion on the particular subject matter.
The DeCiDe kits are now available at: http://www.playdecide.eu/