Children's Universities — a “leading the way” approach to support the engagement of higher education institutions with and for children

part of Listening and empowering: children and science communication

Children Universities are an emerging approach and acknowledged example of successful science communication for and with children. They represent in fact a scheme to implement science in society and society in science. Since its beginning around 2003 to its development into a global movement, the children university approach has also evolved new questioning, beyond proposing an opportunity for young people to meet the university world. Can Children’s Universities help higher education and research institutions to recognize children as a relevant dialogue group, and at the same time to be more responsive and inclusive concerning disadvantaged groups? Is there an impact on educational policy developments? Can face-to-face encounters lead to a change of mindsets – for both the young participants and the academia? The objective of building a two way dialogue between higher education institutions and young people highlights several difficult issues, in particular when a socially inclusive approach is sought, but at the same time opens up new opportunities for both science, scientific institutions, science communication and the public.