Using Public Engagement to Inform Policy Decisions – Part 1

The Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes (CSPO) and its partners have become global innovators in developing methods and tools that bring informed public voices and perspectives into critical scientific and technological decisions. At the next New Tools for Science Policy breakfast, we will present a model of public engagement that recently provided useful input for NASA’s Asteroid Initiative. Working through the Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) network, CSPO brought together university, museum, and client partners to provide an unprecedented, real-time technology assessment for a federal agency.

Public engagement on NASA’s Asteroid Initiative allowed lay citizens with various backgrounds, values, and knowledge to express views that credentialed experts might otherwise overlook—but which, as NASA discovered, can be very useful for robust decision making. By hosting a public forum on a complex topic that required consideration of highly technical issues, CSPO has developed a powerful tool for bringing informed public perspectives into today’s most important scientific and technological debates.