Besides direct actions aimed at favouring the entrenchment of public engagement in the local environment, universities and research organisations – evidently not alone – may also play a role to promote national policies on public engagement that, in many national contexts, are weak or even nonexistent.
Research organisations may play an important role, on at least two main fronts: the mobilisation of national players and the promotion of a public debate.
Mobilising national players and establishing new ones
Research organisations are at the crossroad of many national networks, including other research organisations, research funding institutions, scientific societies, industries, local authorities, trade unions or international and European research associations. They therefore detain a potential capacity of mobilising national players urging them to develop national public engagement policies. This evidently could favour the creation of an enabling environment, not only for research organisations to develop their PE strategies, but also for progressively embedding PE in some key societal sectors and, in the long run, in the society at large.
Feeding the public dialogue on scientific citizenship
The second front of engagement for research institutions can be that of contributing with other players in promoting a public dialogue on scientific citizenship and science-society relations, in addition to their own institutional PE strategies. Public dialogue initiatives at national level on specific science-related issues have been carried out in some European countries, providing evidence of the importance of a national-level public debate. However, a public debate on public engagement and scientific citizenship is still lacking quite everywhere in Europe. Hence the importance for universities and research organisations to develop initiatives and devise strategies for promoting such a dialogue at local and national level.