Public Engagement & Foresight


One of Human Brain Project’s major innovations is to develop a new digital research infrastructure EBRAINS to help advance neuroscience, medicine, and computing. We are using public and stakeholder engagement, foresight and inclusive community building to help lay the ground for a research infrastructure based on the principles of responsible research and innovation. Supporting public acceptance and the Human Brain Project’s commitment  to Responsible Research and Innovation: a wide umbrella term connecting different aspects of the relationships between research, innovation, and society.  

Public Engagement & Foresight in the Human Brain Project

We work to engage citizens and stakeholders in the discussion of ethical and societal dilemmas that may arise from research within the Human Brain Project, providing an opportunity for society to influence how research is carried out in accordance with the principles of responsible research and innovation.  Public engagement also actively informs citizens and stakeholders on the potentials within brain research and sheds light on some of the dilemmas that may arise. 'Foresight', on the other hand, is the practice of making 'forward looks', of anticipating change, and studying future possibilities. We have developed scenarios that serve as frameworks and stimuli for evaluating the possible consequences of the Human Brain Project on society. These have then been discussed with key informants from a range of communities to generate a series of best practice recommendations for researchers and Human Brain Project managers. This simultaneously enables adopting strategies that optimise scientific and social benefits while enhancing preparedness for possible ethical concerns and dilemmas. 

To inform the work with RRI, we organise and facilitate public engagement on potentially controversial issues of relevance to the Human Brain Project. Public engagement gives the society outside of the project a chance to influence how research is being made in accordance with the principles of responsible research and innovation. Furthermore, public engagement also actively informs citizens and stakeholders on the potential within brain research and sheds light on potential ethical dilemmas and future societal benefits.

Engagement methods are also central to our Community Building activities. Broad stakeholder dialogues and involvement support a thriving community, which can make use of EBRAINS and ensure its further development.  


Citizen and stakeholder engagement

Responding to ethical and societal issues can be challenging, particularly in a research setting. We help 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.

The Human Brain Project’s public engagement activities are addressing concerns and opinions of EU citizens about social, ethical, cultural, and legal issues that are related to the project’s activities. With a stronger understanding of the perspectives of citizens, we can communicate better and promote more responsible research that takes the publics’ perspectives into account.

To understand the views and opinions of the public, we have designed and carried out a series of citizen engagement processes, facilitating an informed discussion on neuroethical subjects of interest, identified by researchers in the project and the International Brain Initiative (IBI).

Large scale public engagement has previously been conducted on the neuroethics of Artificial Intelligence, in Dual Use and in Data Governance. The next large-scale public engagement will be on the topic of Disease Signatures and will be held under the title Mixing of Minds (MoM). This series of public engagement workshops will take place in between 2021-2022 in six countries across Europe.


Long-term implications and foresight

Our work focuses on finding ways to design and embed responsible research practices into EBRAINS. A key objective is to develop ´foresight´, which is the practice of looking ahead, to envision potential future developments and changes. The foresight activities cover both the short and long-term ethical and societal issues that may form roadblocks for the Human Brain Project and EBRAINS. We are developing a toolkit for EBRAINS to support responsible research and innovation in practice. This approach is both anticipatory and reflective by design. The toolkit makes approaches accessible and easy for researchers to use. use Researchers across the project are involved in the design of this toolkit through a series of workshops. The intention of this toolkit is to provide the best possible framework for foresight through public engagement activities. The toolkit enhances preparedness for possible ethical concerns and empowers researchers and stakeholders to reflect on their work, their role in their work, and the work’s justification and broader implications.


Community Building

Another important building block in the groundwork for the EBRAINS infrastructure is Inclusive Community Building: creating the foundation for a growing and self-sustaining community around the EBRAINS research infrastructure. The goal of community building is to create increase societal benefit, ensuring that a broad range of stakeholders are engaged in the infrastructure, its development and research.

 The community will be built across the scientific disciplines represented in the Human Brain Project, including both users of the scientific tools and data of EBRAINS, and of a wider circle of relevant stakeholders, for example industry partners, clinicians, patient


Contact us

Main contact: 
Anja Hansen

Arnold Nielsens Boulevard 68E,
2650 Hvidovre, Denmark



Telephone: +45 33 32 05 03


Register an Ethical Concern

Anyone can requests to address ethical, regulatory and social issues in Human Brain Project research. The POint of REgistration (PORE) is HBP’s mechanism to register and identify these issues and keep track of how they are dealt with.

Register an Ethical Concern