CIMULACT research scenario building workshop took place these Thursday and Friday at the Politecnico university in Milan. A large intense workshop with more than 100 participants at 12 tables dealing each with social needs emerged from the 30 National Citizens Visioning workshops that took place late 2015 in all EU countries: half experts trying to draft step-by-step the coming European research agenda and half citizens making sure that research directions proposed by experts are effectively likely to meet the visions expected by the 1000 European citizens involved at start of the CIMULACT project. What did came out so far? The 12 clusters of emerging social needs are nothing new at first sight: sustainable food and energy, holistic health, green habitat, sustainable economy, harmony with nature, equality, unity and cohesion… What the citizens’ expectations reveal appear only if you compare it with the mainstream discourses we are exposed to in the media everyday: the most striking for me is a massive expectations in strengthening practical education, experiential learning, personal development, life-long processes… One may say such results are a form of avatar: when citizens are asked about the future they want they surely think to their kids and from their kids they arrives to better school and education concerns. My feeling reading through the way citizens’ visions were expressed is rather something like more education cannot be harmful or if you don’t know how face grand challenges more knowledge, better shared between people, more reflexivity will help anyway. And compared to the ever shrinking education and education research budgets at the time in Europe and beyond this is a wise and responsible claim emerging from the citizens…
The purpose of this short post is not to anticipate the in-depth and detailed analysis that will take place in the CIMULACT process between now and the end of 2016. And maybe the real challenge of this project is not to come-up with a wide range of refined and original citizens’ visions.
The real challenge is more to complete the whole process from citizens through research and back to citizens. In other words we need to have a demonstrator of the CIMULACT hypothesis: better collaboration with citizens can orient European research directions on the one hand and research can be inspired from citizens’ insights on the other hand.
We need to feed the emerging appetite in research arenas of reconnecting with people. We are not aiming in this first CIMULACT attempt to cover exhaustively all research areas. We better try to connect bottom-up voices with the hears that are the more open at the Commission level. We are aiming at building a demonstrator from which we could say: it works, it’s doable, it’s better and let’s make it as the new normal!