Public engagement exercises usually mean sitting and talking and there’s nothing wrong with that but it is nice to see a more active approach. Sophia Mayberry in her Dec. 10, 2012 article for Downtown Devil (Phoenix, Arizona, US), describes an innovative public engagement project in Phoenix,
ASU [Arizona State University] students worked alongside Phoenix citizens to explore the future of nanotechnology in the city and presented their work at the Downtown campus …
The goal of the project, called the Futurescape City Tour, was to gather a group of citizens and discuss the impact and consequences of nanotechnology and learn the public’s view on it, said Jathan Sadowski, the project’s communications specialist.
Sadowski, an ASU student, defined nanotechnology as manipulation at the atomic level. The main ways the group learned about nanotechnology was in terms of water purification and solar energy, he said.
The Futurescape City Tour, funded by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU, is a unique type of public engagement initiative in that it’s a hands-on conversation with citizens, Sadowski said.
The project started when Sadowski and the other five leaders advertised the idea for the tour and began accepting applications to be in the citizen group. They received many applications and chose 18 people to participate, Sadowski said.
The group then chose three areas that nanotechnology could improve — water, public transportation and solar panels — and went on an in-depth city tour to see what these areas looked like currently, Sadowski said. The tour brought them to places like the Bioscience High School, the light rail and the canal.
Here’s the call for participants, from the ASU Institute of Global Sustainability Futurescape City Tours webpage (Note: I have removed links),
Futurescape City Tours
Explore the future of Phoenix
What does the future hold for Phoenix? Which new technologies matter most for you and your community? How would you direct science and technology?
Join Arizona State University researchers in discovering nanotechnology and thinking about what it might mean for Phoenix. As science and technology progress, your voice is important in shaping new developments.
• Experience nanotechnology through a guided walking tour of the city
• Talk with scientists and engineers
• Photograph the past, present, and future of the city
• Share your opinions about desirable futures
Participation involves attending three gatherings:
Monday, November 5, 2012
5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Monday, December 3, 2012
5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
For further information and to be selected to participate, please email futurescape [at] asu [dot] edu or apply here. You must be at least 18 years old to volunteer for this research.
It would be interesting to know what criteria were used to become a participant; how many people volunteered; how many followed through on all three tours; and how the students collected the data.
The Futurescape City Tours project was designed by students of Arizona State University’s Center for Nanotechnology in Society. The center does not update its website frequently so you may or may not find information about this project there. BTW, there is one other Center for Nanotechnology in Society and it is located at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Both centers are funded by the US National Science Foundation.