Brussels, 05 April 2002
The Academia Europaea has called for further 'e-research' to be included in the Sixth EU Framework programme for research, FP6, which is due to kick off at the beginning of 2003.
The organisation, an international association of scientists and scholars, says in a statement that the Internet and virtual 'technology is running way ahead of the public's capacity to respond. This is not simply a question of public understanding, it creates new sociological pressures, new cultural paradigms and a digital divide in society.'
The Academia urges more research into the psycho-social implications of virtual technology, the implications of these new technologies for European and global business regulation, and issues of harm and risk in the virtual world - including personal choice, technological safety devices and policing and surveillance. The association also recommends further exploration of 'quality issues' related to the provision of public information on the web, including regulation and value judgement. 'Addressing these research priorities under the Sixth Framework programme would provide a sound evidence base upon which to develop and frame future European 'e-policy,'' it says.
Action is also needed to improve the quality and reliability of Internet-based information, says the association. It calls for the development of an e-quality 'kitemark' for European information, targeted to bodies such as governmental institutions and education providers. It also recommends the creation of a single European portal for quality-marked science information in order to tackle 'the current general suspicion of research and of science.' The association suggests that the quality mark system should be overseen by one of the European institutions.
The Academia also urges the Spanish Presidency 'to accelerate the move towards a genuine 'e-community' in Europe,' through, for example, the development of initiatives under FP6 to support EU-wide competence in the use of e-information. 'Existing European initiatives which address the technical infrastructure needed for access should also be accompanied by programmes which would enable and empower the individual user to make use of the Internet,' it states, calling specifically for basic Internet training to be provided to all school teachers.
The Academia also calls for further progress in the area of e-learning, warning that 'e-learning must not reduce education to a commodity' and 'there will need to be a balance between virtual learning provision and the opportunity for social interaction and personal development.' It suggests further research into the development of successful models for e-education and calls for 'the development of an effective life-long learning capacity in Europe, which has a common basis in agreed standards, norms and objectives.'
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