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Public engagement with synthetic biology - toolkit

  • June 2017
  • Topics in science
  • Practical guide or toolkit

Synthetic biology (SynBio) is an emerging area of science in which scientists ‘design’ and ‘create’ microorganisms that may perform a variety of useful tasks. Production of cheap medicines, clean energy or even food, SynBio seems to have huge potential for applications in many fields. But it also raises numerous challenges and questions. As an emerging field, public knowledge of the technology is poor. It is thus essential to establish an open dialogue between stakeholders regarding SynBio’s potential risks and benefits for society and to explore the possibilities for its collaborative shaping on the basis of public participation. The toolkit was developed by the partners of the European project Synenergene. It has been created based on the outcomes of a ‘knowledge sharing and mutual learning workshop’ that was held in Brussels in April, 2014. Atthis workshop the Synenergene partners and science centers and museums involved in the project came together to share their expertise on SynBio. The outcomes of the fruitful discussions held in Brussels have been fed into this document;the toolkit constitutes a common effort of project partners to compile some guidelines and best practices on SynBio public engagement, informal learning, challenges in scientific research and ELSA (ethical, legal and social aspects).

What will you find in this toolkit?

This toolkit can be used as a ‘guidebook’ on wha tis synthetic biology, what are its potential applications and issues, what ethical and societal questions it raises, and how to engage the public in related activities. Seven science centres and museums are involved in the project.

What is the aim of the toolkit?

The toolkit aims at giving basic information, tips, and feedbacks about synthetic biology as a socio scientific issue and experiences held in the field of public engagement. At the end of the Synenergene project, the toolkit will synthesize and relate some of the experiences of science centres and museums involved in the organization of public activities on synthetic biology within the project.

Who is this toolkit for?

This toolkit is aimed at science communicators or anyone interested in getting involved in communicating about synthetic biology to the public or starting public engagement activities in SynBio

Public resource


  • #synbio #syntheticbiology #h2020



This project engaged stakeholders and the public in an open dialogue concerning synthetic biology’s potential benefits and risks and explored possibilities for its “collaborative shaping” on the basis of public participation. Ecsite brought together stakeholders to share expertise, learn from each other and develop a common understanding of crucial aspects of synthetic biology, later used to create and deliver public engagement activities.