My name is Lieve Van Woensel, European citizen born in Leuven (Belgium) and I work for the European Parliament (EP). At the EP, I am head of the Scientific Foresight Service, which makes part of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), the European Parliament’s in-house research department and think tank.
I am on a special assignment as a European Union Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford for this academic year (2017-2018). In Oxford, I will investigate behavioural aspects of dealing with new facts and evidence in policymaking processes. I am aiming at exploring new practical tools for a better use of scientific findings or new evidence in view to shape strong policy options and hope that the results will be of particular interest for the future development of foresight at the European Parliament.
I created this blog for sharing my experience as a Visiting Fellow at this top-ranked university.
The Scientific Foresight Service at the European Parliament forms – together with the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Secretariat – the Scientific Foresight Unit, which supports the STOA Panel. The STOA Panel consists of 25 Members of the European Parliament which together act as a scientific advisory body of the European Parliament.
However, do we bring the evidence in a way which makes our audiences reflecting about this evidence, with an open mind? Are we vigilant for biases in evidence? Could insight in biases for evidence help us understanding how to stimulate a culture of open-minded reflection and dialogue? Would this help us communicating all available evidence in ways opening more policy options, generating more impact? These types of questions brought me to Oxford…
Main research interests
My today’s main research interests are in the field of evidence and policymaking, and in particular on behavioural aspects of dealing with new facts and evidence in policymaking processes. One can also describe this as ‘the psychology of dealing with evidence’, both from the provider’s and the receiver’s end.
A bit about myself
I have been passionate about science and technology since my childhood and have a broad scientific background. I hold a PhD in Sciences (1985) from the Catholic University of Leuven (KULeuven, Belgium), for which part of the research was conducted at the University of Wageningen (the Netherlands), a postgraduate degree in Business Administration, in 1989, from the KULeuven, in the Department which later was restructured as ‘Leuven-Vlerick Business School’, and attended the Oxford Scenario Programme (Saïd Business School) more recently.
Having a strong interest in the science-policy ecosystem and in strategic scenario planning, I see a high potential in the use of foresight processes in scientific advice practices for policy ends, combined with behavioural insights and understanding of psychological mechanisms with regard to bias of facts and evidence.
Since 2012 I have been involved in scientific advice activities for the European Parliament for the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel, a scientific advisory body at the EP. Initially, I was dealing with Science and Technology Opetions Assessment (often referred to as ‘Technology Assessment‘ or TA). Heading the Scientific Foresight Service within the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) since 2014, I investigate ways to figure out possible future impacts of techno-scientific trends.
In my former career, I dealt with science policy in various ways, covering ethics in science, science communication, innovation, and with the science-society-policy ecosystem more in general.
Over the past few years, I have been researching foresight methodologies to glean potential opportunities and concerns that could forewarn policymakers and politicians. One of the recent projects she coordinated at the European Parliament was the investigation of ethical and societal impacts of robotics on society. This fed into a European Parliament report which resulted in the recent legislative resolution ‘Civil law rules on robotics’. The follow-up of this resolution can be monitored here.
Based upon the pilot projects with scientific foresight at the European Parliament, I issued an updated briefing on ‘Forward-looking policy-making at the European Parliament through scientific foresight’ as a policy tool for anticipating upcoming techno-scientific trends, which was published in September 2017.
You could follow me on LinkedIn.
Please note that this blog is personal. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect official position of the European Studies Centre (St Antony’s College) or of the European Parliament.