European exchanges on scicomm



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Participants at the 2022 EUSEA conference in Cork, July 2022. Photo: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

The summer conference season provided VA colleagues with the opportunity to share VA activities, gain inspiration and network at a number of international conferences. VA contributed to sessions at the EuroScience Open Forum in Leiden in the Netherlands, the EUSEA conference in Cork in Ireland, and the EUPRIO conference in Zurich, Switzerland. Here we take a look at a few of the highlights.

Engaged science and exchange in Leiden

The bi-annual EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) returned in July with a packed programme of onsite and online sessions. VA’s researcher and Assistant Secretary General Gustav Bohlin spoke about findings from VA’s survey about researchers’ views on communication at a session in Leiden called “What do we learn from large-scale researchers’ surveys for improving public communication about science and research?”. It was a joint session together with colleagues who have conducted similar studies in Germany, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Similarities and shared lessons between national contexts were discussed within the panel and together with the audience in the well-attended session. 

“ESOF is an inspiring conference with its diverse crowd of attendees consisting of researchers, policy-makers, industry and media delegates as well as representatives from civil society,” said Gustav Bohlin.

VA’s Gustav Bohlin speaking at the ESOF conference in a panel session, Leiden, July 2022.

Gustav also participated in an online session on ways to balance common language and multilingualism as drivers for equity, diversity and inclusion. The panel discussed how best to foster internationalisation and multilingualism in science. 

“It is obvious that ‘money talks’. If financing bodies ask for and reward researchers who work and communicate in more languages, it will most certainly result in more multilingualism,” said Gustav Bohlin.

Co-creation and networking in Cork

Co-creating the future’ was the theme of the 2022 EUSEA (European Science Engagement Association) annual conference hosted by the Munster Technological University in Cork. As the current President of EUSEA, VA’s Cissi Askwall was invited to open the conference alongside the Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork. Project Manager Julia Brink also presented VA’s successful ‘Borrow a researcher’ model for science engagement, in which schools and other organisations can book a researcher to visit them either in person or online.

VA’s Secretary General Cissi Askwall opening the 2022 EUSEA conference in Cork. Photo: Michael O’Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

“As coordinator of ForskarFredag (European Researchers’ Night in Sweden), it was great to meet others working in science engagement from across Europe and hear about their experiences and inspiring ways to engage the public in science,” said Julia Brink.

One initiative that Julia found particularly interesting was Creating Our Future, a national conversation on research that received over 18,000 submissions from people in local communities across Ireland. The initiative was presented by Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society at Science Foundation Ireland.

Top tips for today’s scicomm in Zurich

Zurich was the location of the European Association of Communication Professionals in Higher Education (EUPRIO) annual conference held on 28-31 August. The conference provided a platform to discuss different trends and issues facing science communication around the broad theme of ‘how to engage nowadays’. Cissi Askwall was invited to run a workshop on ways to develop public engagement skills.  

Delegates at the EUPRIO conference in Zurich, August 2022. Photo: EUPRIO.

“It was a great opportunity to discuss and share experiences on how best to engage, together with colleagues across Europe. The top tips shared were really simple but easily forgotten: Listen! And go to where people are!” said Cissi Askwall.


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