Civil society organisations in designing research governance (CONSIDER)

  • Project team:

    Pfersdorf, Simon-Philipp (Project leader at ITAS); Michael Rader; Leonhard Hennen; Stefan Böschen; Martin Sand

  • Funding:

    European Union

  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Project partners:

    De Montfort University (Project coordination), Signosis, University of Namur, University of Lille, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Euclid Network, University of the West of England, Science-Policy Advice Agency

  • Research group:

    Knowledge society and knowledge policy

Project description

Social scientists have been conducting a debate on the potentials, functions, advantages and disadvantages of including societally articulated interests and values in research for several decades. Discussions are here being fed by approaches extending from the theory of democracy, theories of knowledge and the sociology of knowledge to those from societal theory. Viewed empirically, civil society organisations (CSOs), such as environmental protection associations, consumer protection associations or trade unions assume a prominent role as social actors. This is because they represent the organized opinions of many and articulate specific interests in order to shape the development of technologies accordingly (e.g. sustainability of nano-technology). To date there has not been any systematic investigation how CSOs make contributions to research projects, when or how they are permitted to participate and which favourable and unfavourable conditions for this exist. There is also the question which impact the participation of CSOs can have on the self-understanding of research or on the course of societal debate and how this is to be assessed.

These are topics of the CONSIDER project being financially supported by the European Union. The project started in February 2012. It seeks not only to empirically investigate the forms of CSO participation in research projects, but also to develop procedures for CSOs to participate in research projects. The potentials, limits and problems of CSO participation will be explored and made transparent. The insights will be fuelled by the project partners into guidelines, to provide interested stakeholders from science, industry, politics and the civil society with support for involvement in research. In order to produce these results, all projects supported by the EU in its 7th FP will be screened with respect to participative activities, and then a sample of up to about 30 FP 7 research projects will be explored in depth. These projects will be analysed with respect to the participation practices of CSOs and the associated effects on the projects themselves and on the process of research.

The EU Commission puts great value on the involvement of CSOs in research processes. CONSIDER will build not only on discussions with responsible representatives of the European Commision but also on close exchange with CSOs. The project itself involves CSOs and explores possibilities for their involvement in research processes. The project consortium is also building a network of interested CSOs in order to diffuse the results of the project in a timely fashion.


Book Chapters
Böschen, S.; Pfersdorf, S.-P.
Epistemische Verantwortbarkeit. Responsible research and innovation und partizipative Forschungsprozesse
2015. Responsible Innovation : neue Impulse für die Technikfolgenabschätzung? Hrsg.: A. Bogner, 287–295, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft 
Böschen, S.
RRI und Partizipation
2015. Gründungsveranstaltung des Center for Responsible Innovation and Design, Siegen, 8.Juli 2015 
Böschen, S.
Dioxins - networks of collective experimentation
2015. Toxic Legacies - Agent Orange as a Challenge, Evangelische Akademie Tutzing, 28.-30.Juni 2015 
Böschen, S.; Pfersdorf, S.; Revel, M.; Stahl, B.
Participatory science? A novel typology of CSO involvement in research projects
2015. Science and Democracy Network 14th Annual Meeting, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Mass., June 25-27, 2015 
Journal Articles
Anzures, T.; Revel, M. L.; Pfersdorf, S.; Wakunuma, K.; Fedulova, I.; Legris, M.
Discussing CSO involvement in research projects. Some outcomes of the CONSIDER project
2014. Living Knowledge - International Journal of Community Based Research, 12 (4), 1–11 
Pfersdorf, S.
Diskursphasen als Strukturmuster beim gesellschaftlichen Umgang mit Technologien?
2014. 37. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie, Trier, 6.-10.Oktober 2014 
Pfersdorf, S.
Engaging the public in research and innovation: Insights into the EU projects CINSIDER and ENGAGE 2020
2014. European Network for Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) Annual Conference, Berlin, September 10-12, 2014 
Pfersdorf, S.; Fedulova, I.; Wakunuma, K.
A world cafe on the outcomes of the CONSIDER project: Discussing guidelines of CSO involvement in research projects
2014. 6th Living Knowledge Conference, Copenhagen, DK, April 9-11, 2014 
Pfersdorf, S.
Problems of knowledge and identity through trust in a participatory research project
2013. 8th International Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference (IPA 2013), Wien, A, July 3-5, 2013 
Pfersdorf, S.; Böschen, S.
Identitätspolitik: Partizipative Forschungsgovernance und das Problem der Autonomie der Forschung
2013. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung, Berlin, 29.-30. November 2013 
Pfersdorf, S.; Stahl, B.; Fedulova, I.
Civil society organisations in research governance
2013. 1st PACITA Conference on Technology Assessment and Policy Areas of Great Transitions (2013), Praha, Slovakia, March 13–15, 2013 
Kusters, W.; Goujon, P.; Revel, M. L.; Stahl, B.; Wakunuma, K.; Pfersdorf, S.; Fedulova, I.
Governance models
2013. CONSIDER Project Deliverable D1.4 (July 2013) 
Stahl, B. C.; Wakunuma, K.; Pfersdorf, S.
Framework for the comparison of theories and CSO participation in research governance
2013. CONSIDER Project Deliverable D 3.1 (January 2013) 
Böschen, S.; Pfersdorf, S.-P.; Rader, M.; Sand, M.; Revel, M.; Spruyt, E.
Methodology definition and observation tools (CONSIDER Project)
2012. Brüssel 
Pfersdorf, S.
Lines of development and phenomenal structures of the discourse on the regulation of nanotechnology: evidence for a re-classification of societal authorities?
2012. 6th Interpretive Policy Analysis : Discursive Spaces, Politics, Practices and Power, Cardiff, GB, June 23-25, 2012 
Pfersdorf, S.-P.
The role of the German Nano-Kommission for governing nanotechnology
2012. ECPR standing group on regulationgovernance: “New perspectives on regulation, governancelearning” (2012), Exeter, United Kingdom, June 27–29, 2012 
Pfersdorf, S.-P.; Revel, M.; Wakunuma, K.
Civil society organisations in research projects reflection on stories and experiences
2012. 5th Living Knowledge Conference (2012), Bonn, Germany, May 10–12, 2012 


Dipl.-Pol. Simon-Philipp Pfersdorf
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe