On April 8th, the JRC will host a half-day workshop to discuss the potential of unconventional spaces such as Fab Labs for science and technology by other means. Presentations will be complemented by projects’ demos, where attendees will be invited to engage in hands-on experiments on environmental and bio-oriented bottom-up innovations with origin in a Fab Lab space.
The call by the European Commission President Juncker for citizen dialogue and citizen engagement in policy-making and policy relevant science requires deepening the existing interfaces between science and society. The JRC is currently working on such interfaces with the goal of exploring the potential of knowledge co-production in emerging unconventional settings, ranging from public and bottom-up innovation to open and citizen science or Do-It-Yourself / Do-It-Together (DIY/DIT) science and technology.
A trend is growing in which citizens are producing knowledge in creative and unexpected ways. They are doing it online and offline, in their homes, neighbourhoods, libraries, schools, but also in new spaces such as Fab Labs, Hackerspaces or Media Labs. These Makerspaces serve as community-oriented hands-on spaces offering tools and learning environments for wider publics to experiment and develop their own projects, objects or prototypes. Started in the MIT in 2001, Fab Labs (Fabrication Laboratories) stand out as the most established example in this context, with a current network of approximately 270 Fab Labs in Europe.
Although such a trend is challenging accredited status of established fields of knowledge, there is an enormous added value of new thinking and new practices. These Makerspaces are promising hubs/platforms for connecting untapped resources and ideas from civil society, government, research, education, business and industry.
DG JRC is closely collaborating with the Global Young Academy on challenges and topics that have European and global policy relevance. As a Global Young Academy Member, Ivana Gadjanski is particularly active in promoting Fab Labs for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education.
Fab Lab Amsterdam is run by Waag Society, where Frank Kresin and Pieter van Boheemen have a vast experience in exploring emerging technologies for healthcare, education, culture, society, government and business. A new H2020 project “Making Sense” on DIY environmental sensors has recently started joining DG JRC with the Waag Society and more partners from academia, civil society and Fab Labs.
New modes of policy and knowledge co-production are also at the core of other activities in DG JRC (Susana Nascimento, Paulo Rosa and Ângela Guimarães Pereira), ranging from the development of the EU Policy Lab as a space inside the European Commission applying experimental / “Lab” approaches into policy-making and implementation, up to a focus on public engagement and experiential modes of involving extended communities in projects and workshops carried out in the area of science and technology studies.
For more information, you can see the programme of the workshop.