Completing the dossier that begins with Alain Bergeron's article, in this issue, on the Quebec-based STS (Science, Technology, Society) Perspectives project on scientific and technological foresight in its relation to the demands of society, Sébastien Maujean and Jacques Theys give an account here of the "Agora 2020" exercise launched in France in 2004, the aim of which is to link future public research strategies with the expectations of society in the broadest sense.
In a world where research, scientific knowledge and technological change are of such importance, it is essential to develop public policies that are in phase, in these fields, with the expectations of society and with general future developmental trends. Agora 2020, which aims to stimulate a constructive dialogue between researchers, social actors and public research policy officials, is a vast foresight consultation exercise (with more than 700 people consulted between 2004 and 2007). It has thrown up a large number of - sometimes novel - questions and concrete orientations for future scientific policies in the period to 2020/30 that are destined to feed into research strategies in fields such as urbanism, transport, housing, territorial administration, the vulnerability of systems etc.
This article explains the originality of this exercise, its methodological specificity and the worldviews expressed by the actors consulted (including the general public), together with the common core of attitudes that emerges and the research strategies that may be derived from it, alongside the implications of these for French research etc.