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The objective of ISEED is to identify generalizable characteristics and conditions that cultivate active and productive citizen participation in public deliberation. The aim is to construct a novel concept of ‘deliberative participation’ designed to enhance both the quality and the legitimacy of political decision-making, by focusing on the importance of knowledge-based deliberation. ISEED uses the existing experience in the broadly defined field of citizen science (i.e., the participation of citizens who are not professional scientists – individual citizens, NGOs, groups of patients, etc. – in the production and use of scientific knowledge) as a tool to explore under what conditions participative and deliberative practices can be successfully implemented for the purpose of building forms of knowledge-based democratic governance complementary to political representation.

ISEED combines theoretical analysis, empirical research, and small-scale experiments. It will empirically explore how existing practices of citizen participation in science can offer innovative methods to confront and overcome a number of current obstacles, faced by democratic participation and decision-making. It will develop a new tool to describe styles of argumentation in traditional and digital media and will analyse the role of emotion and reason in polarised debates on contemporary scientific issues. ISEED will foster deliberative democratic processes in Europe and other knowledge societies.

The specific goals of the project are the following:
  • Specifying an inter-disciplinary conceptualisation of the dimensions and merits of good deliberative practices in relation to knowledge-based democratic governance.
  • Exploring through an experimental perspective and methodology the role of knowledge communication and citizen engagement, and of their inter-relation in building good participatory practices, with a view to envisioning an inclusive and empowered ‘public sphere’.
  • Investigating and interpreting the citizens’ perception of the pros and cons of active participation in public debate in relation to the existing institutions of representative governance.
  • Developing proposals for the science and technology components of the knowledge base to serve the interests of fair and inclusive democratic societies.
  • Identifying key elements in knowledge and deliberation-based communication strategies able to secure the inclusion of vulnerable and/or marginalised social actors and their protection from social and political manipulation (e.g. populism, discourse polarization).

The project’s consortium is composed of the following 12 partners:
Ca' Foscari University of Venice (UNIVE), Italy - Project coordinator
University of Trento (UNITN), Italy
National Museum of Natural History (MNHN), France
University of Warsaw (UNIWARSAW), Poland
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway
Institute of Urban and Regional Development (IRMiR), Poland
Danish Board of Technology Foundation (DBT), Denmark
University College Dublin, National University of Ireland (NUID UCD), Ireland
Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), Spain
Applied Research and Communications Fund (ARC Fund), Bulgaria
Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC), Uruguay
University of Exeter (UNEXE), United Kingdom

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