Engaging with societal actors and civil society is a key element of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and in the efforts of doing science with and for society. But for some involved in research and innovation, public engagement is still a relatively new concept. So what can be done to increase societal engagement and what are the challenges?
On 26 November, its time for the national final of the 2015 Researchers’ Grand Prix, in which researchers are challenged to give the most captivating, inspiring and educational presentation of their research – in just four minutes. Eight regional finalists will be stepping on to the stage in front of a live audience in Stockholm to compete for the title of Sweden’s best science communicator.
A thunderstorm simulation in Romania, organ-dissecting workshops in Estonia and a spectacular light show in Birmingham were just a few of the thousands of free activities held on 25 September as part of the 2015 Researchers’ Night – Europe’s largest science festival.
An eco simulation game for children, a municipal project developing a food policy for the city of Milan, a British company promoting the employment of people with autism and a French programme tackling water challenges in the Acquitaine region. What do they all have in common? They are all examples of responsible research and innovation in practice.
On 25 September it’s time for the European science festival Researchers’ Night that is taking place in 300 cities throughout Europe. In Sweden 27 towns are inviting schoolchildren and the general public to meet scientists in a range of activities, including workshops, science shows, science cafés and behind-the-scenes tours of research labs. The aim of Researchers’ Night is to show that scientists are ordinary people with extraordinary jobs.
Swedish children and teenagers are pretty diligent at eating fruit and vegetables, according to the results of a mass experiment organised as part of Researchers’ Night 2014. In the Vegetable Experiment, scientists at the Swedish National Food Agency enlisted the help of over 5,500 pupils, who acted as research assistants for a day. Carrots and apples top the list of most eaten fruit and vegetables.
The European project “RRI Tools” has been set up in order to empower all actors to contribute their share to a Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), built with and for society. Significant opportunities for businesses and scientists could come from Responsible Research and Innovation, according to the findings of a series of 27 workshops organised by “RRI Tools” in 24 countries, gathering a total of 411 participants from 5 stakeholder groups – researchers, business and industry, policy-makers, civil society organisations, and education community.
The hope for a better life – that’s the foundation for the strong support for investing in research and innovation among Swedes, according to Helene Hellmark Knutsson, Swedish minister for higher education and research. She participated in VA’s dialogue seminar on 30 June during Almedalen week in Visby.
Britain is often seen as a leader in public engagement and activity that creates dialogue between scientists, the public, media and politicians. A Science Communication Forum held in April in Gothenburg brought together over 350 science communicators from across Sweden to gain inspiration from four leading British experts on public engagement. The Swedish Minister for Higher Education and Research, Helene Hellmark Knutsson, also participated in the event.