Uncertainties over emerging technologies and their potential effect on society and the environment often lead to controversy between scientists, policymakers and the public. Opening up the debates and involving citizens and social scientists early in the process of developing new technology is one way of responding to this issue of governance. By doing so, the hope is that the ethical implications and acceptability of new science can be more carefully considered and framed in a responsible and democratised context. To explore an example of aspiration in practice, a series of interdisciplinary public engagement events was organised at Durham University under the title New Storylines for Living with Environmental Change: Citizens' Perspectives. In this commentary we report on one of these events, a one-day workshop entitled Responsible Science and Public Engagement, where a citizens' panel aimed to explore ways of conducting deliberative engagement with scientists using the creative arts and a scientific dilemmas café format.