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Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology

Nanotechnologies and other emerging technologies are increasingly developing, and, accordingly, are consistently playing a more important role in our society. However, current developments are still widely unknown by the public. The topics are only rarely addressed by the media, consumer products do not contain information labels, and schools or universities in most of the European countries do not have such a subject as nanotechnologies in their curricula. But the public, as representatives of a society concerned by new technologies as consumers, and as future employees in various areas of new technologies, is an important addressee for information and dialogue. Obviously “the public” does not exist. Different stakeholder groups require different ways of communication and involvement. Furthermore, the topic does not speak for itself; it is not attracting per se, especially when there is only little knowledge about it.

Therefore, new research projects are dealing with questions like how to engage the public in dialogue processes? How can discussions on ethical, legal, and social aspects (ELSA) take place when knowledge is limited? What are appropriate formats and ways of communicating nano issues to a wider public? Etc.

ZSI is involved in a number of projects dealing with such questions:

In NANOYOU (https://www.zsi.at/de/object/project/972), special target groups were young people. ZSI conducted a qualitative and quantitative European survey on knowledge and attitudes on nanotechnologies, and an evaluation of educative materials and formats developed within the project.

In Nanochannels (https://www.zsi.at/de/object/project/1552), ZSI assessed the outreach of different communication channels (such as newspaper supplements) and activities (such as round tables and live events) that were designed to include a wider public in the nano debate.

Currently, ZSI is coordinating NanOpinion (https://www.zsi.at/de/object/project/2243) with the goal of monitoring public opinion on innovations in nanotechnologies. The project is targeting the general public, with a special focus on hard-to-reach target groups, which are people who are normally not engaged or interested in science topics or who don’t spontaneously give their opinion on nanotechnologies. Dialogue is facilitated online and in outreach events in 30 countries presenting different participatory formats. To promote an informed debate, the project also runs a strong press & social media campaign, and offers a repository with more than 150 resources for information and dialogue activities.

ZSI brings in experiences of more than 5 years in science communication and dialogue on nanotechnologies, bringing together state of the art contents, formats, materials, and activities in that realm.

Contact person: Magª. ilse Marschalek

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