'Emotional' debating about industrial biotechnology
The value of emotions for triggering public-expert interaction
For the public at large industrial biotechnology is a relatively unknown area of research. This technology is likely to affect many different aspects of people’s daily life. Biofuels is one of the major outcomes of this technology. With the introduction of biofuels there was a lot of discussion about their sustainability and potential to fight climate change. These discussions mainly involved stakeholders like scientists, politicians, policymakers, NGO’s and industry. The general public was not engaged.
As a lot of discussion and deliberation on the social implications of this technology development is still ongoing it is important that many people are able and have the capacity to get involved in this. Many engagement efforts focus on the cognitive processing part of deliberation and tend to avoid or forget the emotional processing which plays a much bigger role. How can these emotions be addressed and taken into account in the debate and will this actively involve citizens in the debate on genomics and sustainability? That is a central question in this project.
First of all, it must be ascertained precisely which emotions arise, and on what sources they are based, and finally how experts can best respond to these. After all, a discussion always involves more than just talking about facts. Ultimately, new ways of interaction between public and experts will be created. These forms will make interactive use of emotions and intuitions in order to facilitate a fruitful debate on social issues concerning industrial biotechnology.
Start project: September 2008