UK science and policy networks increasingly advocate ‘upstream public engagement’, that is, early public deliberation around potentially controversial science and technology. In the last two decades, neuroscience has advanced considerably, and non-medical uses of brain imaging technologies (BIT) are now raising substantial concerns. The 2010 Brain Imaging Dialogue (BID) brought together scientists, health practitioners, sociologists, philosophers, ethicists, religious representatives, citizens, policy-makers and legal experts to deliberate on non-medical uses of BIT. I present the BID as a community of inquiry that sought to stimulate policy deliberation in Scotland. The paper tells the story of the process from the perspective of the public engagement practitioners who organised it, drawing lessons about the community of inquiry method and concluding with reflections on the challenges of connecting upstream engagement to ongoing policy-making. Taking cues from practitioners’ experiences, I propose an institutional mechanism for the uptake of outputs from deliberative processes.
- upstream public engagement
- deliberative policy-making
- public engagement practitioners
- brain imaging