RAND Europe Contributes to Digital Society Thought Leadership Programme

The Round Tower in Windsor Castle in Windsor, England


The use of the digital is become pervasive and it is becoming ubiquitous in every aspect of our life: from our schooling and education, to how we engage with politics, and even how we manage our finances – it is everywhere. Not only has its influence accelerated over the last 20 years, but all things digital continue to grow exponentially. Developments in digital technology, and the speed at which they come, drive innovation and new applications that touch our lives in different and often profound ways. While there are numerous opportunities associated with being digital, we also need to understand and mitigate the challenges it presents to society.

Following the success of the 2016 programme, RAND Europe is working in partnership with the Corsham Institute to design and deliver the 2017 Thought Leadership Programme, at St George’s House, Windsor, to explore the opportunities and challenges that digital technologies are creating within society which will be comprised of four consultations discussing topic issues in: education and skills, citizen science, currency and civic engagement.

Consultation 1: Education & Skills

preschool students using tablet with teacher


The digital world is disrupting many traditional models of operational and transaction within society. This is apparent in learning and skills attainment, where technology is increasingly being used to deliver education, knowledge and skills in new and innovative ways. Coupled with future changes to the mode and pattern of work and the economic shock posed by the current political climate, we need to consider how digital technology can best support individuals to develop the skills needed to attain maximum benefit from its use in work and social situations, as well as help to create stronger societal norms when using digital technology and ensure appropriate behaviour online.

This consultation took place on 6–7 March. RAND Europe experts participating in the event included Axelle Devaux, Julie Belanger, Sarah Grand-Clement and Catriona Manville.

Consultation 2: Citizen Science

Students engage in citizen science by playing the brain-mapping game EyeWire

Students play with the brain-mapping game EyeWire, a crowd-sourced citizen science tool

Public domain photo by Nathan Kit Kennedy

Scientific knowledge generation in this digital age is evolving and an organic movement of independent citizen scientists is increasingly demonstrating that the pursuit of the scientific endeavour need not be the domain of professional scientists alone. Digital interconnectedness is fostering the collaboration of researchers and the public from all over the world to generate research ideas, design cutting-edge research, identify funding opportunities and collect or supply data in pursuit of some of the most pressing scientific research problems of our time. Novel methods of innovative research are becoming possible through these revolutionary modes of engagement, and contributing to the democratization of knowledge, while activating citizens by raising community awareness about societal problems at the local, as well as the global stage.

This consultation will take place on 6–7 April. RAND Europe experts participating in the event included Hans Pung, Elta Smith, Sarah Parks, Anna Knack and Catriona Manville.