The Swiss Science Council SSC develops a new working programme every four years. In particular, the five annual plenary sessions contribute to its implementation. The Council’s method of work is based on an iterative process within the Council and between its secretariat.

Method of work

The SSC works on a four-year cycle, at the beginning of which a set of over-arching themes are identified and the working programme – which also includes evaluation mandates – defined. When implementing the working programme, the plenary sessions serve as a focal point for discussion and decision-making, as they assemble the various working groups that explore different subtopics within each overarching theme and present them to the Council for consideration.
The path to consensus is based on the available data, which are collectively assessed in an iterative process by members of the Council. The approach is characterised by analytical rigour, incremental development, and continuous improvement until the desired result is achieved. The five phases of this process are described in more detail below.

  1. Agenda setting: The SSC develops its own working programme, which contains several overarching themes and takes current debates in account. Within each theme, the Council identifies key issues and creates interdisciplinary working groups to tackle these issues more in detail.

  2. Data collection and analysis: Accompanied by at least one scientific advisor from the secretariat, the working groups organise workshops, interviews, or roundtable discussions with experts from various disciplines. The initial findings are presented to the Council, which may then decide to mandate experts in specific fields.

  3. Considerations and recommendations: The findings from these mandates are presented to the Council to foster a deeper discursive approach by including national and international expert opinions. These are then expanded and complemented with literature reviews and exchanges between Council members. This process gradually leads to a synthesis, which helps the Council to formulate its recommendations.

  4. Dissemination of results: The Council’s considerations and recommendations are published as reports or position statements before being disseminated. With the help of the secretariat, the Council interacts with various stakeholders in the ERI landscape, organises events, and is invited to present its findings to various committees.

  5. Impact: The Council has an impact when its recommendations are taken up by the SERI, the Federal Council, or other stakeholders, such as parliamentary commissions, cantonal authorities or higher education institutions. This can be seen especially during legislative changes or political decisions such as the ERI dispatch. But the CSS also wants to initiate formal and informal debates, or bring important topics to the attention of the public at large.