Symposium BI01—Sustainable Development in Materials Science and Related Societal Aspects
Sustainable development in material sciences includes the societal aspects that encompass chemistry, physical sciences, toxicology, medicine, etc., in both academia and the industrial world. If we focus on nanomaterials and associated technologies, all of those fields are making forays into the areas of energy, transportation, communication, health (drug delivery, imaging and regenerative medicine), environment, and so on.
Each time a discovery or an innovation is brought upon us, society reacts with either hope or fear. There are those who hope for a better quality of life with these new, improved materials and their potential uses, and who genuinely see nanotechnology as progress in society. On the other side, uncertainty, potential risk effects, and ethical issues are some of the legitimate concerns behind these innovations. Consequently, the benefit to risk ratio should be always considered.
A real dialogue between the scientific community and society is needed. While researchers, industrial partners, designers and major stakeholders may be relatively aware about the benefit/risk ratio, the general population is not still clearly informed, which may also stem from a lack of real dialog, knowing there is a strong difference informing and communicating. The question of trust in science, and accepting what is new becomes pertinent, so if we want to avoid this increasing gap in understanding between the scientific community and the general public, we need to address the basic societal perceptions that may arise with this domain.
This symposium will encourage a broad approach to both material science and social science which will lead to more stimulated dialog among all parties. This will provide a forum for interdisciplinary discussions of materials technologies and the transition towards sustainable development as this involves societal, ecological, ethical and economic concerns.
The main topics for discussion in this symposium are material recycling, life cycle assesment, industrial ecology, waste management, sustainable supply chains, material impacts on human health, circular economy and perception of material science.