Two China-Europe workshops on socio-technological change and multidisciplinary research were held in Beijing on September 6 and 7 2012. They were initiated by the Rathenau Instituut, ITAS, and the member institutions of the European project GEST (Global Ethics in Science and Technology) which attempts to promote a global debate and to create a global network of experts on the core socio-ethical issues related to the present grand S&T challenges.
The first workshop on "Grand Socio-technological Challenges", co-organized by two European TA institutes (Rathenau Instituut and ITAS) and the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development (CASTED), was focused on societal aspects of the grand challenges both regions have to face. In this workshop the organizers intended to combine European and Chinese expertise on issues of risk-communication, participation and trust related to socio-technological challenges – such as an ageing society, global warming, increasing stress on food and other supplies – in the specific Chinese and European regions to explore the challenges they pose for STS policy. In this context, Linda Nierling, ITAS, held a lecture on "Ageing Society - Technical Solutions for a Societal Problem?".
The purpose of the second workshop on multidisciplinarity, which was co-organized together with a second Chinese research institution, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), was to explore the possibilities of stimulating co-operation with the social sciences in the area of problem-oriented science and technology. Again Chinese and European expertise covered jointly cross-sectional S&T themes like designing multidisciplinarity or responsible research and innovation as well as multidisciplinary policy challenges like environmental management or urbanisation. The interdisciplinary research perspective led to discussions on major challenges China is going to face in policy areas such as urbanisation, ageing society and environmental management. In this context Michael Decker, ITAS, gave a talk on "Integrating knowledge across disciplinary boundaries. Challenges posed to interdisciplinary research".
Participants were Chinese and European, but also Indian, South African, Brazilian, and Japanese scientists and science policymakers from the fields of science policy studies, Foresight, and TA. Furthermore, representatives of the German and Dutch embassies as well as the European Commission participated in the workshops.
Both, organizers and participants confirmed their interest in continuing and intensifying their exchange and cooperation on a global level. As follow up activities s of these workshops two concise reports will be made for the relevant governmental bodies in China and the EU. In the EU the recommendations following from these reports will be directed to the Commissioner for Research and Innovation who is responsible for the new framework program Horizon 2020 and for the functioning of the European Research Council, which will hopefully lead to further research cooperation in these fields.