Posted: 10/11/20

Science Foundation Ireland is calling on the Irish public this Science Week to share your experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic and participate in a mass public debate to have your voice heard on what we have learned from this pandemic. This is a unique opportunity for the public to inform how we would like our future to look in areas of our lives that have been impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions and mitigation measures.

The results of the study will enable policymakers to listen to and understand the citizens' perspective and to reflect upon often understated or hidden issues that have occurred during this period of crisis with a view to informing the design of future policies to address these challenges.

To facilitate the discussion, Science Foundation Ireland has awarded ADAPT, the SFI Research Centre for Digital Media Technology funding under the COVID-19 Rapid Response Funding Call to create and host the Choosing Our Future Public Forum, an online participation platform live during Science Week, from Tuesday 10th – Friday 13th November. 

The Choosing our Future Public Forum will focus on several topics that have had a spotlight shone upon them due to the strong impact they have had on the Irish Public during this period of profound transformation:  future of healthcare, our towns and cities, education, and societal change. Whether it is the realities of home working and studying, addressing misinformation, harnessing technology to make our lives easier, and healthier,  this is your chance to shape how we emerge from this pandemic together and learn from our shared lived experience.

Prof. Luke O’Neill, Pete Lunn, and many of the expert voices we have listened to as part of our COVID-19 experience will provide their expert opinion on a wide range of topics, and the science underpinning them. They invite the public to participate en mass and have their opinions heard. The questions posed range from the development of vaccines, to transforming our education systems, from building sustainable living spaces to increasing our outdoor physical activities. The findings of the platform discussions will be shared with policymakers to support their efforts to form future policies with the benefit of the voice and experiences of the citizen.

Prof. Vinny Wade Director of the ADAPT Centre said  “ The Choosing our Future forum uses ADAPT’s award-winning discussion platform to facilitate a two-way dialogue, debate and deliberation between researchers and the public in a unique way. This innovative format presents research-based evidence to inform the public on the challenges we collectively face and encourages them to have their say in how we shape the future. The final report will create a clear picture of public opinion on the key issues, combining next-generation natural language analysis, with social science research techniques. “

Commenting on the platform Dr. Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland said: “This Science Week we want to hear from you, the Irish public, on how science can shape our shared future. Through the online discussion on the Choose your Future Public Forum, we are encouraging people across Ireland to join the conversation on how COVID-19 has impacted how you live your life. As we respond to Covid-19 as a society, the role science plays in our everyday lives has never been clearer. In sharing your views on the platform, you have the opportunity to shape our collective future and the role science plays.”

Dr. Jane Suiter Director of the Institute for Future Media (FuJo) and an Associate Professor in the School of Communications at Dublin City University said: “ In creating The Choosing our Future forum, we are providing an exciting opportunity to capture the Public’s voice, to hear their opinions and suggestions that will help shape our post-Covid Future. The report on the study will draw from a unique blend of state of the art computer science techniques to provide a comprehensive picture of the hopes of the Irish Public. “

The Choosing our Future Public Forum will be launched on RTÉ on Tuesday 10th of November, with moderated discussions running until Friday 13th.  Register now to have your say at http://choosingourfuture.ie.

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