Voting closes TODAY in the ”People’s choice award’ in science engagement’ from People and Participation.net. I’m a Scientist is one of the projects up for the award. Obviously, I don’t want to be guilty of vote-rigging, you can have a look and vote for whichever project you think is best, but please, please, please vote for us:-)
We believe that IAS empowers young people and helps to give them the skills and confidence to engage in discussions around science and technology. The other projects up for the award are all specific consultations, which are very worthwhile, but we think that giving young people the skills and, importantly, the confidence, to discuss their views has a much bigger long term effect on public engagement.
To expand on that a bit, there’s a lot of talk in youth and public engagement circles about the ‘Ladder of Participation’, this is (very roughly) the idea that there are different possible levels of citizen involvement in decision-making:-
- The most basic level of actual participation is informing people of what’s going on, this is a necessary starting point for real participation.
- The mid-levels mean involving people in decision-making, but with the terms still set by the authorities (consultations, or community representatives sitting on committees are the usual examples of this).
- The upper levels are citizen-led initiatives and true power-sharing.
This isn’t to say that everything needs to be at the top level (see, e.g. David Wilcox on this), but we should have some top level stuff for real democracy. I think, personally, that the only way we can help 3 along is by encouraging people to think that they can change things, that their input is valid and makes a difference, and giving them some practice. And that’s why I moved my life 400 miles to take the job running I’m a Councillor, and that’s why I decided to create I’m a Scientist off the back of it. And that’s why I think we deserve your vote.