Meeting of Minds: European Citizens' Deliberation on Brain Science


How will we harness our new-found knowledge of the brain?

Meeting of Minds is a unique exercise involving the general public in a discussion on cutting-edge science. Citizens from nine European countries suggested what they think should be done with our new-found knowledge of the brain.

Throughout 2005 and into early 2006 they debated the ethical, social and legal implications with international experts. The citizens' conclusions on the use of new technology, medicines and techniques form one of the main results of the project and are aimed at policy-makers at European and national level.

The participation events organised by the project featured 126 citizens from nine European countries. The events involved assessment of and deliberation on the issue of brain science with various experts and public policy-makers.

The concept of the European Citizens' Deliberation is mainly rooted in the European tradition of participatory technology assessment and foresight. The overall aim of this tradition is to consider and assess socially relevant issues in the field of science and technology by actively involving experts, citizens, civil society actors and policy-makers in various methodological procedures.
Its wider objectives are to:

•    provide relevant analyses of scientific-technological issues in their socio-political contexts (present and future);
•    offer advice to policy- and decision-makers; enhance social learning among experts, stakeholders and citizens;
•    stimulate and inform public debate.

Basic information

Country: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom

Coordinator: King Baudouin Foundation, Belgium,

Programme: FP6

Project Acronym:

Target groups: general public, industry, policy makers, researchers

Topic: Biology, Biomedicine, Medical sciences

Start year: 2004

End year: 2006


Contact person: Tinne Vandensande (project manager), vandensande.t (at)

European Citizens' Deliberation is a method of deliberative, multilingual assessment by citizens, in close collaboration with experts and stakeholders. It comprises several interrelated methodological tools based on best practices in public participation in science and technology and is designed to achieve effective deliberation by citizens, experts and stakeholders at both the national and European levels.

Central to the ECD methodology is a pan-European citizens' panel which initiates parallel national assessments. The national results are then input into transnational European deliberation conducted by a European panel. In each of these steps, dialogue with and input from relevant experts and stakeholder groups are crucial elements in the deliberative process.

The initiative uses the concept of participatory governance which – for the purpose of policy deliberation and decision-making – aims to enhance the networking capacity among various stakeholders and strengthen the links between the interests of citizens and consumers, thereby complementing existing, ‘top-down' representative methods of policy- and decision-making.

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