As a country poor in natural resources and with a small domestic market, Switzerland has always had to adopt a strategy of increasing production in the technology and service sectors. In this sense, this country has already long since been well on the way toward becoming a knowledge-based society: this is where the teaching and research carried out at universities has a very special part to play. Both are largely tax-funded and form the basis for the creation of «knowledge» as a product.
At the same time, specialist knowledge is increasingly meeting with public suspicion and unease. What is called for is an effective communication of science with a view to involving the general public in shaping the future on the basis of knowledge. Key questions here are: What contribution does science make? What can society expect of science and what is society entitled to expect of science? Where do science's opportunities lie and where are its limits?