Exchanging views on effective societal engagement

Not many people know that Henrietta and I first met at a Network of European Museum Organisations (NEMO) meeting in Budapest, where we each represented our countries in our previous roles. Little did we know at the time that we would develop a friendship which ultimately led to the launch of Hopkins Van Mil in March 2005, 14 years ago!

Visitors from Japan

Perhaps it’s for that reason that we both still enjoy working internationally. Last week we had a visit from Megumi Kimura, Adjunct Assistant Professor of the Institute of Innovation Research at Hitotsubashi University and Jusaku Minari, Associate Professor at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Applications at Kyoto University. What the meeting showed us once again is how much can be gained from being open to the experience and practice of colleagues in other countries.


Henrietta and I shared our experiences of putting people at the centre of big conversations, particularly on complex issues where the answers for society are as yet unclear. We talked about the benefit of bringing creativity into methodology designs, for example in relation to HVM public dialogues for The Royal Society on genetic technologies and currently neural interface technologies; and our work for Wellcome Trust’s The Crunch in which we engaged 180 people across the UK in conversations about the future of food, health and the environment.  Megumi and Jusaku subsequently sent us this wonderful clip showing how the Isle Project is using art and design to create materials to engage publics in Japan in discussions about emerging technologies, including gene drives.


It is for that specific reason – the opportunity to exchange views on effective societal engagement - that I’m delighted that HVM is invited to speak at this year’s CRISPRcon: Conversations on Science, Society, and the Future of Gene Editing, which brings diverse voices together to talk about societal implications of CRISPR and other forms of gene editing technology. The event is taking place on June 20-21 at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. More information and a link to register are available at https://crisprcon.org/crisprcon-2019.

Let’s continue the conversation.