Does science for missions undermine the mission of science?

September 3, 2020 10:15 - 11:45


‘The scientific men of the world now have before them the task of readjustment which, we may hope, will mean the whole-hearted devotion of the available resources of scientific research and development to their proper and beneficent uses.’ Henry Dale (1936 Nobel Prize winner), The mission of science, Nature, 156, December 8 1945.
Should scientific men (and women…) ‘readjust themselves’ again, this time towards other types of mission, those against climate change, food insecurity, aging and a number of other ‘grand challenges’? These mounting challenges faced by countries will determine to a great extent peoples’ well-being in the not too distant future. Science, innovation and social changes together can contribute significantly to solving these challenges.
The necessity to drive this process has led to a call for a new policy approach, often labelled ‘new’ mission-oriented policies (MOPs). This involves stronger orientation and better co-ordination of different policy measures to support the whole knowledge and innovation chain, from basic research to market deployment. This ESOF session aims to trigger a lively and constructive dialogue among a diversified panel of participants around key questions:

What are the main implications of MOPs for science, for instance in terms of articulation with societal needs and interdisciplinary approaches?
Does the inclusion of science into missions jeopardise its freedom, exploratory power and long-term horizon?
How to balance – and if possible and relevant connect – non-oriented and oriented research?
What have been successful modes of articulation of science into mission and can science policy support ‘mission-oriented science’?

This session will build on the results of the EC and OECD studies on Mission-oriented Research and Innovation for societal challenges. The leaders of these projects are moderators of two roundtables in this session.
This session is part of the proposed OECD stream at ESOF.

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