The 3rd International Living Knowledge conference (3LK) (Ã‰cole Nationale SupÃ©rieure des Mines de Paris, 30 August – 1 September 2007) was organised by the International Science Shops Network, Fondation Sciences Citoyennes, International Network of Engineers and Scientists for global responsibility, Centre of Sociology of Innovation of the Ecole des Mines, Unit Political and Social Transformations related to Life Sciences of INRA. It provided a forum where information on community based research, carried out in both community and academic settings, on new forms of partnerships between research and civil society and on new modes of innovation could be shared and developed. It aimed at disseminating and exchanging information on community based and participatory research, on citizensâ€™ science and cooperative innovation.
I just returned from 3LK Paris where I presented an academic paper drawing on Smart Internet CRC research on user-led innovation, Web 2.0 and participatory media from an upcoming report. My paper titled â€œCitizen Innovation: using participatory research for knowledge discoveryâ€, discussed how user-led innovation provides new concepts and methods capable of extending the field of knowledge about participatory research. It explored how practice-based methods such as Participatory Action Research and Community-based Research have facilitated the rise of Citizen Innovation which provides opportunities for citizen empowerment; supports the co-creation of new public-sector services and scientific knowledge discovery; and utilises knowledge that is embodied, experiential and collaboratively produced. The presentation also canvassed pathways for public-sector organisations to leverage the participation of citizens and amateur scientists in the interest of co-creating new forms of knowledge.
I got to meet some wonderful people including Eric Seulliet, a Paris-based foresight consultant and founder of La Fabrique du Futur (The Factory of the Future) and we discussed his interesting new book project on user-led innovation. The Inauguration Plenary launched the conference with a fascinating discussion on the co-production of knowledge partnerships between researchers and civil society for a more just world. The philosopher Isabelle Stengers had to withdraw at the last minute due to an injury and was replaced by the outspoken American scientist Ignacio Chapela whose thought-provoking presentation proved to be a surprising highlight of the three-day event. Chapela has raised the ire of the University of California Berkely, at which he is tenured, for openly criticising UCâ€™s signing of a $500-million research contract with the petroleum company BP. Chapela refers to these circumstances as â€œthe loss of space to make scienceâ€ and voiced concern that BP and other corporate sponsors are engaged in â€œthe wholesale buying of the entire University of California Berkeleyâ€.
Hats off to Claudia Neubauer of the Fondation Sciences Citoyennes, for organising 3LK and coordinating the 300 attendees and over 100 oral presentations. I was not familiar with the Living Knowledge Network before the conference and was impressed to learn about the Science Shops Network that was launched in 1999. According to the European Commission, Science Shops are grass-roots research organisations that provide an interface between scientific researchers and citizens of the local communities they serve. Science Shops can be found in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom. Canada, Israel and the USA have developed similar initiatives outside the European community. Science Shops help non-profit clients like NGOs solve scientific problems and carry out research that measures the effects of pollution, as well as investigating social and environmental problems.
I see these exciting policy developments as another aspect of the peer to peer transformation currently taking place across the world in a variety of disparate fields, as Michel Bauwens has so elegantly documented. Like Open Source software, Wikipedia, user-generated content and peer production, citizen innovation through Science Shops provide another opportunity for people to become empowered by participating in the co-creation of scientific knowledge that is personal, relevant and commonly shared by the local community. The Living Knowledge Network is playing an important role in bringing scientific researchers, citizens, universities and government agencies together for this very purpose and I look forward to exploring opportunities for trialing similar activities in the Asia-Pacific region.
The 4th Living Knowledge Conference will take place in Dublin, Ireland in 2009.
Jens Bonk made a cute video of the 3LK conference which he posted to YouTube.
Paper presentations will soon be made available at the Conference website which can be found here.
For more on the Living Knowledge Network follow this link.
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