Twinning Science and Parliamentary discussion
Politics and science constantly interact. Yet politicians and scientists acknowledge that they do not know each other well enough although they would have much to learn from each other by sharing information and experience. In 2004, the Académie des sciences, at the impulse of Académie Member Dominique Meyer, and the Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Options (OPECST) have thus launched a programme arranging for three persons - one member of the Parliament, one member of the Académie des Sciences and one young researcher - on a voluntary basis, to meet and discover their mutual worlds under exceptional conditions. Such "twinning" operations take place in three steps:
• members of the Académie and young researchers are greeted into the Parliament (Senate and National Assembly): here, at this initial step organized by the OPECST, the three participants build contacts. Members of the Académie and young researchers are acquainted with the legislative work of the members of the Parliament who introduce them to the role of some standing committees and delegations, as well as to the work of the rapporteurs. They attend a session of questions to the government at the National Assembly and are given the opportunity to meet the presidents of the committees from the two chambers, as well as representatives from all political groups;
• members of Parliament are greeted into laboratories: members of parliament discover there the many aspects of research as an occupation, research in progress, partnerships, all that provide the necessary outreach to Europe and the world, problems related to the management of big laboratories. They visit premises and facilities and talk with staff in order to better understand how researchers lead their daily lives;
• scientists are greeted into electoral constituencies: the scientists discover there how complex local politics are and how multi-faceted the duties of members of parliament in the field.
Beyond these three steps of the twinning program itself, twinned partners build direct contacts throughout the whole year, which last through time. These sustainable personal contacts do add to the originality and fruitfulness of this programme.