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Improving Legitimacy in Nanotechnology Policy Development Through Stakeholder and Community Engagement: Forging New Pathways



This paper reports on a multistakeholder engagement process conducted in an Australian policy setting that led to a new community engagement framework: Science and Technology Engagement Pathways (STEP). I describe the process in the context of a lack of awareness, experience, and culture of deliberative public engagement in Australia, particularly in relation to decision making concerning science, technology, and innovation. Increasing cautiousness in government and industry approaches to nanotechnology development, in Australia and elsewhere, creates an imperative and an opening for improved stakeholder and community engagement to improve the legitimacy and sustainability of decisions. In this context, STEP may stimulate movement toward deliberative engagement by raising awareness and commitment from diverse stakeholders and providing a structure for developments in engagement and public dialog. STEP potentially provides “rules of engagement” and “intervention pathways” for ongoing public engagement with science and technology developments and for critical “science in society” perspectives to inform policy.

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