Integrated EST Framework (EST-Frame)

An FP7, Science in Society, Collaborative Project, Small or medium-scale focused research project

Short description of the project

  • The aim of the EST-Frame project is to contribute to socially robust and ethically sound research and technology development by providing further methodological development of appropriate tools for social impact assessment and technology evaluation. The project will appraise current assessment methods for evaluating emerging science and technology with the objectives of mapping their strengths and weaknesses and determining their appropriate application domains. It will examine the current policy context for emerging science and technology (EST) policy advice and will identify future trends and needs that should be considered. The project will also identify to what extent - and in what contexts -a framework of a more integrated nature can be applied, and it will examine the appropriate position that such an integrated framework can operate in, within a context characterised by internationalisation, market politics, and new forms of public-private partnerships in technology governance. Finally, this work will result in the design of a flexible, integrated framework that is intended to facilitate holistic societal dialogue and reflection as well most significantly, policy advice on emerging science and technologies.
  • The main output of this project is an integrated framework that can be applied by policy forming actors (economic councils; ethical councils; technology appraisal institutes, government technology assessment boards, etc.) who are involved in the process of conducting analyses and coordinating policy deliberations on the broad range of science and technological developments. The project will use four examples of emerging science and technologies -
    (1) nanotechnology in food production, (2) synthetic biology, (3) biofuels and (4) security in emerging ICTs - to determine how current frameworks are applied to assess social impacts and then interpret these assessment procedures in the context of the integrated framework that will be developed within this project. An added value aspect of the project is the policy relevant outcomes that will result from the assessment of these four technology case studies.

The project period was from 2012 to 2014.

  • The EST-Frame project has produced a final outcome: TranSTEP (TranS-domain Technology Evaluation Process) accessible on http://transtepapproach.wordpress.com/
  • When novel technology issues are referred to routine assessments, challenges are often evoked with respect to participants, procedures, quality and meaning of the results. Using the TranSTEP approach involves taking the unique character of complex technologies issues seriously by engaging assessment practitioners from different assessment traditions, together with key problem owners, representatives from industry and public research, and stakeholders, in a learning oriented, integrated assessment. In this way TranSTEP aims to take the difficult discussions at the start of the assessment, instead of making an assessment that will create controversy at the time is published.TranSTEP should be conducted as a project across the established domains, where the mandate, problem framing, methods and intended results should be negotiated anew for each TranSTEP process. In this way it will not itself settled into routinised forms, but continue to be adapted to the specifics of each application area.
  • TranSTEP is explained in the document "TranSTEP in a nutshell"