Reflections on the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s International Evidence Roundtables

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) held two International Roundtables to gather evidence on Covid-19 communication and public engagement on Tuesday 13th April 2021.
This activity was part of the RSE’s Post-Covid-19 Futures Commission, created to help Scotland emerge as positively as possible from the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of the Commission’s activity, the Roundtables sought an international perspective on public participation, giving us a valuable insight into the actions and responses of a range of countries including Denmark, Ireland, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Scotland/UK, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Ghana and South Africa. These events were under Chatham House rules.
The Democratic Society’s report consists of case studies from Canada, Ghana, New Zealand, South Africa and Taiwan and in addition includes representations from Belgium, Brazil and Finland. The report draws attentions to
important patterns of behaviour as well as good and bad practice in the varied responses. This account of what happened is remarkable.
Insights not just from countries but from a range of experts in misinformation, psychology, respiratory diseases, chemical ecology, citizen engagement, science communication, and social innovation creates a compelling narrative about each country’s approach to the pandemic and the experiences of different groups of people: the tensions and the challenges. Undertaking a thematic analysis of the recordings, the following documents the key points that can be taken from the roundtables. In addition, the report synthesises the findings of the Democratic Society’s report Rapid review of international evidence on Covid-19 communication and public engagement.
The main themes focus on:
• various approaches taken by
the different governments
• public messaging
• trust of leaders and experts,
• conflicts between science
and politics
• misinformation
• how the pandemic exacerbated
existing inequalities
• innovative approaches
• the impact all this will have
on democracy and public
participation moving forward.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherThe Royal Society of Edinburgh
Commissioning bodyThe Royal Society of Edinburgh
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2021


  • participation
  • international
  • review
  • covid-19


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