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IAGP engagement with the public

This research is led by the Understanding Risk Research Group at Cardiff University. IAGP is an ‘integrated’ assessment of geoengineering proposals because it includes many different inputs, and one of the key components of the IAGP programme is public engagement. A primary objective is to engage members of the wider lay public with the project’s science modelling and the option assessment process.

 Cardiff team lead public deliberative workshops

Throughout the spring of 2012 IAGP held a series of ‘deliberative workshops’ (a form of structured discussion) with members of the public in different locations around the UK. Four workshops took place, in Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Norwich, involving the recruitment of small groups of public participants to take part in a day of discussion and interaction on the subject of geoengineering. The IAGP deliberative workshops represent the first systematic academic study of the public perceptions of geoengineering and its risks.

The central focus of the day was to generate as many questions about geoengineering as possible. The IAGP research team – led by Adam Corner, and involving Nick Pidgeon, Karen Parkhill and Nem Vaughan, as well two postgraduate researchers Kate Walker and Merryn Thomas – facilitated a number of activities through which the participants explored a wide variety of issues raised by geoengineering. 

At such an early stage in the development of ideas around geoengineering—where there is a great deal of uncertainty, and much at stake—opportunities for in-depth and meaningful public engagement are critical. The public participants displayed an extremely high level of engagement with the subject, demonstrating that lay views on complex topics like geoengineering can generate insights that ‘experts’ often miss.

A full report on the public engagement workshops is now in preparation, and the key findings, especially the questions generated during the discussions, will play an invaluable role in the overall ‘assessment framework’ that the IAGP team will produce.


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