Training: Foresight and Public Engagement

This module discusses how public and stakeholder engagement, foresight and inclusive community building can prepare the ground for responsible research and innovation, engaging citizens and stakeholders in finding ways to design and embed responsible practices in research. 

How can we design and embed responsible research practices? Foresight, or the practice of looking ahead, is one way to envision potential future developments and changes. Together with public and stakeholder engagement, foresight can support work on potentially controversial issues. This resource explains how foresight and engagement can help influence how research is conducted in accordance with the principles of responsible research and innovation. 

Foresight can help cover both the short and long-term ethical and societal issues that may form roadblocks for research. Public engagement actively informs citizens and stakeholders on the potential within brain research and sheds light on potential ethical dilemmas and future societal benefits. In the Human Brain Project, we have organised and facilitated dialogues with the public, with a vision to engage European society in setting the direction for the Human Brain Project’s research and innovation, and broaden the debate on the ethical, legal and societal issues. By looking forward, undertaking so called 'Foresight' activities, we have also anticipated change and studied future possibilities. The scenarios we have developed serve as frameworks and stimuli for evaluating possible consequences of the Human Brain Project in society. By engaging stakeholders, we have developed a series of best practice recommendations for researchers and Human Brain Project managers.


Foresight - the ability to anticipate possible future developments and plan your actions based on this knowledge - is key to developing research in societally desirable directions. These presentations provide an overview of foresight theory and gives practical examples of foresight exercises for anticipation and reflection on societal and ethical issues related to HBP and EBRAINS research.

Foresight theory in RRI is introduced as well as neuroethical and societal issues. This is followed by a presentation of cases and examples of possible long-term societal and ethical implications of brain research and an overview of approaches to anticipate these issues and implications. 

The course will teach you to be aware of the potential ethical and social issues raised by the research, understand what qualifies as an ethical or societal issue, identify ethical and societal issues related to research, and understand the need to address or manage societal issues or concerns.

Audience for this module include researchers of all career levels, EBRAINS users, data and infrastructure providers and EBRAINS leadership and management. The module is presented by Lise Bitsch, Phd., senior project manager at the Danish Board of Technology, Dr. Arleen Salles, Senior Researcher, CRB, Uppsala University.

This video is an introduction to foresight theory in RRI. It is presented by Lise Bitsch, and gives an overview of some approaches to foresight development within the tradition of technology assessment. 

This video is an introduction to neuroethical and societal issues. It is presented by Prof. Arleen Salles and discusses how to anticipate and think about neuroethical issues in brain science.

Public Engagement

Responding to ethical and societal issues can be challenging, particularly in a research setting. During the course of the Human Brain Project, stakeholder and citizen engagement has helped researchers understand how they may utilise and implement public insight and opinions while planning and carrying out their research, helping them to heighten the positive impact and benefit for society. With a stronger understanding of the perspectives of citizens, it is possible to communicate better and promote more responsible research that takes the publics’ perspectives into account. 

This part of the module will introduce the theory and practice of public engagement. It will discusses the aims and outcomes one can achieve with the different public engagement methods, and offer support in choosing engagement methods that fit the desired outcome. You will also learn how to engage with different types of stakeholders, from experts to lay people. The module will include include material and templates to support you in planning an engagement process.

The materials for this training module is currently under development. In the meantime, please explore the resources we have built for the Human Brain Project and EBRAINS so far. 

Public Engagement Resources


Further reading on foresight

  • Foresight report on Future Neuroscience 
    Foresight Lab report - Future of Computing and Robotics 
    Foresight Report on Future Medicine 
  • The AI 360 foresight workshop on AI (
  • Swierstra T., Stemerding D., Boenink M. (2009) Exploring Techno-Moral Change: The Case of the ObesityPill. In: Sollie P., Düwell M. (eds) Evaluating New Technologies. The International Library of Ethics, Law and Technology, vol 3. Springer, Dordrecht. 
  • Lucivero, F., Swierstra, T. & Boenink, M. Assessing Expectations: Towards a Toolbox for an Ethics of Emerging Technologies. Nanoethics5, 129 (2011). 
  • De Laat B (2000) Scripts for the future: using innovation studies to design foresight tools. In: Brown N, Rappert B, Webster A (eds) Contested futures: a sociology of prospective techno-science. Ashgate, Aldershot
  • Grin J, Grunwald A (2000) Vision assessment: shaping technology in 21st century society towards a repertoire for technology assessment. Springer
  • Salles A. Farisco M (2020) Of Ethical Frameworks and Neuroethics in Big Neuroscience Projects: a View from the HBP. AJOB Neuroscience target article. AJOB Neuroscience 11:3 167-175.
  • Salles A. Evers K. Farisco M. (2019) The Need for a Conceptual Expansion of Neuroethics AJOB Neuroscience 10:3 DOI 10.1080/21507740.1632972
  • Farisco M. Salles A. Evers K. (2018) Neuroethics: A Conceptual Approach. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics Volume 27, Special Issue 4 (Clinical Neuroethics) 
  • Salles A. Farisco M. Evers K.  (2018) Neuroethics and Philosophy in Responsible Research and Innovation: the case of the HBP. Neuroethics
  • Salles A. Evers K. Social Neuroscience and Neuroethics: A Fruitful Synergy. In: Ibanez A, Sedeno, L., Garcia, A., editor. Social Neuroscience and Social Science: The Missing Link: (Springer, 2017)*
  • Evers K. Salles A. Farisco M. Theoretical framing of neuroethics: the need for a conceptual approach. In Debates about Neuroethics. Racine E Aspler J. eds. Springer, 2017).*

Further reading on public engagement

  • Abelson, J., Forest, P.-G., Eyles, J., Smith, P., Martin, E., & Gauvin, F.-P. (2003). Deliberations about deliberative methods: issues in the design and evaluation of public participation processes. Social Science & Medicine (1982), 57(2), 239–51.
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, (2019). Encountering Science in America. Report part of the project ‘The Public Face of Science’. [online], last accessed July 16, 2020
  • Arnstein, Sherry R. (1969) 'A Ladder Of Citizen Participation', Journal of the American Planning Association, 35: 4, 216-224.
  • Burgess, M.M. 2014. From ‘trust us’ to participatory governance: Deliberative publics and science policy. Public Understanding of Science23(1): 48–52.
  • Davies, S. R. (2008). Constructing Communication: Talking to Scientists About Talking to the Public. Science Communication, 29(4), 413–434.
  • OECD (2020), Innovative Citizen Participation and New Democratic Institutions: Catching the Deliberative Wave, OECD Publishing, Paris,
  • Stilgoe, J., Lock, S. J., & Wilsdon, J. (2014). Why should we promote public engagement with science? Public Understanding of Science, 23(1), 4–15.
  • Science, Society and Engagement – An e-Anthology, a publication of the EU Engage2020 project (
  • The Engage 2020 Action Tool for deciding on what method to use for public engagement:


Lise Bitsch
The Danish Board of Technology Foundation
WP Leader 

Nicklas Bang Bådum
Danish Board of Technology

Arleen Salles
Uppsala University
Deputy WP Leader & Neuroethics Task Lead

More Ethics & Society Training Modules

Browse the collection of capacity building resources on different aspects of our work on Ethics & Society:

See all our Ethics & Society capacity building resources

Anyone can request to address ethical, regulatory and social issues raised by HBP research.

Register an Ethical Concern

More Ethics & RRI 

The Human Brain Project will have an impact on both science and society.

We promote RRI practices within the HBP, and help to shape the direction of its research in ethically sound ways that serve the public interest. 

Learn about Ethics & RRI in the HBP!