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Thematic introduction

Thematic introduction

For the seventh time, the Indonesian and Dutch partners in the Joint Working Committee are organizing the Open Science Meeting (OSM2014). This time the theme, Science and Society, was chosen to focus the contributions by speakers and presenters from different governmental, social, private sector and scientific backgrounds.

An important recent trend in the relationship between science and society is that science is increasingly expected to contribute to societal well-being, economic growth and better public policy formulation by means of knowledge utilization and innovation.

The organizers wish to stress that the focus on knowledge utilization (in the Netherlands often called “valorization”) and innovation are important in all sciences—human, social, natural and engineering. Valorization and innovation can and should do much more than producing marketable products. Science and engineering can create products and processes, and some of these will be marketable. Social sciences contribute to an understanding of the fabric of society and thus lead to social innovations that directly contribute to addressing societal problems. Human sciences like history and philosophy offer critical reflection and insight that benefits policy making, business, and a sense of identity and social cohesion amongst citizens.

The direction of innovation and valorization is shaped by interactions between three domains:

  1. Market: producers, financiers and traders; and also individual and collective consumers;
  2. Society: government policy makers, political parties;  and also individual citizens, stakeholders and NGO’s;
  3. Science & technology: universities, governmental research agencies and knowledge-intensive industry; and also individual scientists, engineers and scientific, scholarly and professional associations.

There are tensions between the three domains: criteria of market profitability, societal wellbeing and scientific quality and integrity will not always point in the same direction.

During OSM2014 we invite actors from these three domains—from industry, government, civil society, NGO’s and science. The aim is to formulate a critical agenda for improving the relationships between Science and Society. How can science better contribute to tackling the grand societal challenges, and how can societal conditions be improved to make science more robust and relevant to play its societal role?  Those are the challenges of OSM2014.