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Abstract

This conference report examines issues of effectiveness, representation and scale in deliberative processes by reporting on outcomes of the Participatory Approaches in Science and Technology (PATH) conference. The H-form and action planning (HAP) approach was used to guide 120 participating experts in a plenary workshop as they assessed the current state of practice and developed action plans for improving public participation in decision-making related to science and technology. The workshop outcomes highlighted the need for greater institutionalisation of participatory processes within decision-making structures and wider society, coupled with improved transparency in decision-making and increased emphasis on participatory democracy in the formal education system. Higher levels of funding and logistical support for participatory processes were also recommended, along with improvements to practice through continued innovation and testing of methods, as well as enhanced opportunities for collaborative learning from past experiences. Challenges in representing the values and views of diverse publics were identified as a central concern. The HAP approach provided a systematic way of exploring individual and collective thoughts on a complex topic as well as a means of developing ideas into practical action plans. Reflections on the benefits and shortcomings of this method are offered.

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