Why has INRAE committed to an institutional charter for public expression?
Support to enhance the quality of dialogue between scientists and citizens
With a community of nearly 12,000 people, the Institute is ranked as the world’s leading research organization specializing in “Agriculture – Food – Environment”. The Institute and its staff, whether researchers, engineers or technicians, are recognized, expected and heard by the community about the topics we deal with to respond to the major societal challenges from them. This audience has been even more important since the Covid-19 crisis, a period during which science and world personality were pushed to the forefront of the media landscape. Discussions and disagreements may have arisen on this occasion. The foundations of the scientific approach have at times been undermined, namely the accuracy, honesty, reliability and transparency of the methods used, the absence of conflicts of interest and critical evaluation by peers. This is why we wanted to address the topic by formalizing the Charter of Public Expression to remind the challenges of public speaking by scholars and in general by INRAE staff in terms of professional conduct, ethics and integrity, and that is with regard to freedom of expression for all. Thus, it is a matter of proposing criteria that will make it possible to ensure that these values are respected in all circumstances. Thus, in the face of the proliferation of methods of communication and immediate dissemination of information, each agent of the institute will be equipped and prepared to deal with these multiple situations.
How are these recommendations divided and for whom?
Suggesting standards and best practices
A working group has been established since the spring of 2021 around the Ethics Delegate and the Communications Director in order to develop the working method and deliverables. Thus the consultations took place, allowing discussions with stakeholders that reflect the various questions and expectations that exist within the institute.
Two types of support are provided to INRAE agents.
- first, public expression charter. This is built in conjunction with the National Code of Ethics for the Research Professions and the INRAE Code of Ethics, Ethics and Scientific Integrity. It makes it possible to provide a framework and standards common to all on issues relating to general scientific expression, and the principles and foundations to be respected in this field.
- This covenant completes it Series of fact sheets which deals with the most common types of common expression situations. It allows, depending on the problem faced by the agent, to obtain advice illustrated by practical cases, access to source documents and definitions of standards. The goal is to help our agents ask themselves the right questions before speaking. If they decide to start, they should feel armed in the practice of public expression, whether it is to respond to an interview request from a media outlet, to express themselves on social networks, to intervene in a public debate or even to respond with an invitation from a partner or stakeholder. Perhaps the situations covered are not exhaustive, and therefore these practical papers can be completed when and when their interactive version should help us.
These resources give each administrator a first level of insight into issues, enhance reflexivity and provide standards of good practice. But the institute goes further than that. Training procedures aimed at scholars (media training, public speaking support, etc.) The Institute is developing its offer in relation to Continuing National Education to popularize and adapt these training courses to the expectations of the largest number.
With this range of resources, INRAE is concretely committed to supporting, accompanying and protecting the entire community of agents – not just researchers – to advance their public expression in service of the quality of the work they do and the social issues to which they respond.
We hope that this support will enhance the quality of dialogue between scientists and citizens, and enhance confidence in scientific discourse and more generally in INRAE’s ability to respond to the major challenges of our societies in the areas of agriculture, food and the environment.
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