Science on demand!? Go local, think small and place based

These were three of many tips that Nordic Baltic Science communicators shared at the Reconnecting People – Nordic Baltic SciComm trends online seminar on 16 June. The event was organised by the Falling Walls Engage Hub Sweden and was open to the Nordic-Baltic SciComm community and other interested parties.

Around 30 science communicators and public engagement officers from across the Nordics and beyond met online to explore the secrets of some successful Nordic Baltic science communication and engagement initiatives that have seen the light during the pandemic. Speakers from the five countries; Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, openly shared their tricks and secrets on how to engage, educate and entertain the public during an on-going pandemic.

What’s on in the Nordics?

Why not have a coffee with a researcher asked Sidsel Flock Bachmann, Senior Advisor Communications at the Research Council of Norway and gave an inspirational talk about their morning shows on Instagram. Every morning during the national research event Forskningsdagarna, the physicist and TV host Andreas Wahl has brief morning coffee chats, online, together with a Norwegian researcher. In the short films, the two of them talk about the researcher’s work and its relevance to current topics. The chat is broadcast live on Instagram and is then published in social media channels. 

Another very popular activity was ”Level Up Your Brain”, where a well-known Norwegian gamer and a brain researcher met to see what happens in a gamer’s brain when she plays – in real time. The idea behind the online event was to host an experiment and  conversation about the brain, which took place over two days on the gaming platform Twitch.

Julia Brink, Project Manager at VA (Public & Science) in Sweden, presented the concept “Borrow a researcher” in which schools are invited to ‘borrow a researcher’, which has proven to be a popular and successful ForskarFredag activity for many years. Researchers visit schools, non-profit associations or workplaces, to talk about their work as a researcher and the wider societal context of their research. During the pandemic the activity shifted totally online and has since then expanded to both online and in person visits. An online booking platform facilitates the booking of researchers.

‘Go local’ was the message from Adalheidur JónsdóttirHead of Education and Culture Division at Rannís, the Icelandic Centre for Research. Due to the pandemic, European Researchers’ Night activities had to be reorganised, and instead of large public gatherings the Icelandic team focused on small local activities run in villages across the country.

Terje Tuisk, Head of Development at the Estonian Academy of Sciences, mentioned that they have seen an increased exchange between scientists and the written press during the pandemic. “Through the scientist’s eyes” is a weekly opinion column in the Estonian daily newspaper “Postimees” written by a member of the Academy of Sciences in Estonia. It started as an initiative of the newspaper in August 2021 and has resulted in almost 40 columns covering topics such as the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the economy, climate and cultural issues. The reception it has received by readers has far exceeded ordinary opinion pieces.

In Finland the academic discourse is mainly held in Finnish, which is a problem for international researchers who don’t speak the language. They have trouble joining the discussions and making their voices heard. The new concept BASE – Building Academic’s Societal Impact,  has therefore been established to help foreign researchers based in Finland to communicate their research. The first activity will be the “Science Night Live at Heureka”, a new science communication and networking event which will bring together researchers from all fields, said Mari K Niemi, Research Director at E2Research. The first event will be run in 2023.

Go global and get connected with Falling Walls Engage!

Falling Walls Engage is a global platform for science engagement which connects science leaders and engagers across the world. The nine regional hubs form an international network which  aims to connect science engagers to discuss and exchange knowledge around key issues and challenges through regional perspectives. Vetenskap & Allmänhet is hub manager for Hub Sweden, which connects Nordic and Baltic science communicators and engagers. Niklas Marzinek, Senior Project Manager, Falling Walls Engage in Berlin, gave a brief update on the new hub launches in Mexico, Japan and South Africa. Coming soon is also the Falling Walls Engage Festival which takes place in Berlin on 6-10 November. Miléna Salci, Project Manager of the Hub network also presented the new Falling Walls World  Engagement Map where all organisations are invited to showcase their science engagement focus. The platform gives an easily accessible  overview  of other initiatives across the globe.


More information and stay tuned

If you would like to know more about the Falling Walls Hub Sweden and connect with us, please get in touch with Maria Hagardt at Vetenskap & Allmänhet plus join the Nordic Baltic Scicomm Facebook group.

Mark 14–15 November in your calendar for a FWE Hub Sweden meeting being held in Stockholm prior to the national science communication conference Forum for Science Communication. More information and invitations will be published in our calendar shortly.

Find out more about the other Falling Walls Engage International Hubs; in Australia, Argentina, Canada, Greece, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Sweden and South Africa and their activities.


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