Meeting of Minds: European Citizens’ Deliberation on Brain Science

King Baudouin Foundation
Brussels, Belgium
June 2005, January 2006

Laying the Foundation for Science

Global Voices, AmericaSpeaks’ international arm, collaborated with IFOK, a German consulting group specializing in civic engagement and outreach, to organize and facilitate Meeting of Minds: European Citizens’ Deliberation on Brain Science.

European citizens wrested – in nine languages- with the implications of brain science policy to develop recommendations for the European Parliament. 126 participants representing nine European countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK) came together to showcase a new citizen deliberation method, advancing the European Union’s goal of greater public involvement in decision making and governance.

Meeting of the Minds broke new ground by hosting a genuine transnational deliberation. Deliberation in nine languages was made possible though simultaneous translation at individual table discussions, multilingual documents and broadcasted translation during presentations.

Meeting of the Minds featured a mix of large and small group sessions, groupware computers, polling key pads and accessibly written scientific discussion materials. Over the course of the year, participants met several times in their respective home countries and then twice for pan European town meetings in Brussels, Belgium.

At the end of the deliberations, all 126 participants agreed that they had not only been part of an intensive and substantial debate, but also an extraordinary European experience in which they felt empowered as citizens.

The European Parliament received the participants’ thirty-seven recommendations in January 2006. These recommendations have set the framework for national and international meetings on this issue and have informed research and policy papers.

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“Meeting of Minds” developed thirty-seven consensus recommendations for the European Parliament that identified priorities for research and regulation in Europe on brain science. The method co-developed for Meeting of the Minds by the King Baudouin Foundation, Global Voices, and the Institut fur Organizsationskommunikation has since been used for other Europe-wide citizen consultations on key policy issues.