Browse all Publications

Filter by section: Practice Insight

Publications included in this section.

Feb 19, 2024 Practice Insight
University-led dialogues with society: balancing informing and listening?

by Nina de Roo, Tamara Metze and Cees Leeuwis

In response to a growing understanding that scientific knowledge is not always trusted at face value, many universities organise dialogues to `open up' to society. In four exploratory case studies at the Dutch Wageningen University & Research, we looked into the adherence to dialogue principles and the roles that researchers performed while engaging in dialogues. We found that researchers face three challenges when interacting with societal stakeholders in dialogues: (1) moving from knowledge provider to “letting in” and listening to different perspectives (2) balancing attention toward knowledge with attention toward values and emotions (3) navigating different aspired and perceived roles of researchers in dialogue (e.g. Pure Scientist versus Issue Advocate).

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Jan 22, 2024 Practice Insight
Engaging young people in science communication about mental health during COVID-19

by Signe Herbers Poulsen, Nina Maindal, Kristian Dahlmann Oddershede, Mathias Sejerkilde, Stine Breiner Pedersen, Manizha Haghju, Emma MacLean Sinclair, Anne Harrits, Ulrik Bak Kirk, Jacob F. Sherson and Gitte Kragh

Many young people struggle with their mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic compounded these challenges. However, young people are rarely involved in research and communication about causes and coping strategies. We used an online game as a conversation starter and co-created a list of coping strategies with young people to apply the dialogue model of science communication and facilitate social conversation about mental health during COVID-19. The young people found the involvement was valuable as it led to self-reflection, social reflection with peers and an experience of recognition and contribution. We discuss challenges and urge researchers to explore ways for open dialogue and co-creation as strategic and contributing parts of the research process.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Nov 22, 2023 Practice Insight
The value of public science events: insights from three years of communicating climate change research

by Ruth A. O'Connor, Tara Roberson, Clare de Castella and Zoe Leviston

Public science events are valued primarily as sites of individual learning. We explored the individual and collective value of university-based science events discussing climate change and motivations to attend. While events were most commonly valued as opportunities for learning, their social context created collective value associated with the physical gathering of like-minded people. Participants despairing at inaction on climate change were given agency through learning, participation, interpersonal discussions and normalising new behaviours. Post-event interpersonal discussions increase the reach of events beyond “the choir”. These discussions increase the diversity of messengers, creating opportunities for new framings and understandings of climate change.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Nov 06, 2023 Practice Insight
What would aliens think of science on earth? Philosophical dialogues in the museum to help children reflect about science

by Jelle De Schrijver

Thinking about what makes science science can help people develop both an understanding of and a critical attitude towards knowledge. In this case study we explore how children participating in informal science communication activities can think about science by engaging in philosophical dialogues. The dialogue facilitator's inquisitive stance helps children develop arguments about knowledge, scientists, and science. The use of philosophical questions and a cover story involving alien scientists enthuses most children, but some find it frustrating. However, frustration acts as a motivator enhancing further reflection. Introducing this approach at science museums or science festivals challenges science communicators to question rather than to answer.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Oct 23, 2023 Practice Insight
Towards inclusive PE for science granting councils in Sub-Saharan Africa: challenges and opportunities

by Konosoang Sobane, Elizabeth Lubinga and Karabo Sitto-Kaunda

Inclusive public engagement (PE), an approach that recognizes the plurality of gender identities, is crucial for science reach, uptake, and impact. This study explored the PE activities of 15 science granting councils in Sub-Saharan Africa to identify existing practices, their strengths, and barriers to inclusive PE practices. Key informant interviews were used to elicit data, with additional data collected through a digital audit of the 15 councils. The study established that SGC activities demonstrate relatively good alignment with their PE mandate. Initiatives have been developed and implemented, although there are areas that need strengthening. Some of the key areas that need strengthening are the lack of commitment to multilingual knowledge transfer using local languages; the explicit inclusion of women in policies and programs, the diversification of engagement platforms and tools to address the urban-rural divide and the digital divide.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Sep 25, 2023 Practice Insight
How European journalists cover marine issues

by Bruno Pinto and Ana Matias

Keeping citizens informed about the sea is important because it can motivate collective actions to address threats to coastal and marine sustainability. In this article, we wondered how European science and environmental journalists cover marine issues in the print media. We conducted 26 interviews with press journalists in 13 European countries and asked about topics, triggers, and sources to write marine-related news. We found that climate change, marine pollution, and biodiversity are the most important issues and that good working relationships with both scientists and NGOs are key for this media coverage.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Sep 18, 2023 Practice Insight
How to save the world with zombies? — A scientainment approach to engage young people

by Petra Bättig-Frey, Mirjam West, Rahel Skelton and Verena Berger

When trying to sensitize adolescents for sustainability, innovative communication approaches are needed. In the outdoor escape “Zombie mission”, players follow a story and try to save the world by solving puzzles about sustainability topics with scientific information found in the university gardens. This study investigates to whom this scientainment approach appeals and whether it can impart knowledge and raise interest in science and the environment. A mixed methods approach was adopted using questionnaires and interviews. The results suggest that the game is a promising tool for communicating sustainability to adolescents, even those who may not have had prior interest in the environment or science. Participants enjoyed the activity and gained new knowledge as a result.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Jul 24, 2023 Practice Insight
Opening museums' science communication to dialogue and participation: the “Experimental Field for Participation and Open Science” at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

by Wiebke Rössig, Bonnie Dietermann, Yori Schultka, Suriya Poieam and Uwe Moldrzyk

The Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (Natural History Museum — MfN) established participation and exchange as central elements of the entire institution alongside its research. In order to experiment with formats and settings for dialogue-oriented exchange and participation, an area within the exhibition round walk was designated for this purpose in 2018. Over the course of three years, the “Experimental Field for Participation and Open Science” has developed the practice of opening the museum's research and collection in a dialogue-oriented, participatory way. Focus lies on museum visitors and on reaching new groups who are not in close contact with science yet. The practice of opening and participation was tested, reflectively accompanied, and further developed during the whole time period. This article describes the idea, concept, design, and the results of the external evaluation of the formats of dialogue-oriented and participatory outreach in the Experimental Field at the MfN. It gives an overview of underlying ideas, design of the space, and how the goal of creating mutually beneficial encounters and enabling participation and co-creation was addressed.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023

Jun 20, 2023 Practice Insight
Promoting sustainable mobility in communities with citizen participation: approaches, perspectives and results of a Living Lab in Germany

by Madlen Günther, Simone Martinetz, Josef F. Krems and Bernd Bienzeisler

The present contribution deals with a practical insight into the design, implementation, and evaluation of different participation formats (on-site, direct mail, online) to participate in a living lab. A total sample of 290 citizens was recruited to promote sustainable mobility (i.e. walking and cycling) and improve urban space quality. Results further address the influence of participation methodology on participants' evaluation, willingness to participate and reported satisfaction with the participation used as well as predictors for participation satisfaction. Although the sample was not representative, the results suggest that citizen participation contributed to a more sustainable mobility awareness and a higher acceptance of the urban transformation.

Volume 22 • Issue 03 • 2023 • Special Issue: Living labs under construction: paradigms, practices, and perspectives of public science communication and participatory science

Jun 20, 2023 Practice Insight
Living labs as third places: low-threshold participation, empowering hospitality, and the social infrastructuring of continuous presence

by Christian Pentzold, Ingmar Rothe and Andreas Bischof

In this practice insight contribution, we reflect on our learnings from configuring and upholding a living lab as a third place in an urban and distinctively non-academic environment. Trying to make space for an empowering hospitality necessitated withholding our schemes and workshop plans so to facilitate grassroots endeavors on the side of the people dropping in and staying around though they might follow unexpected paths. This follows no blueprint but requires researchers and science communicators to be open to surprises, to be patient and persistent, and to be willing to swap positions and be the learners, not the instructors. While the physical and technical infrastructures were at one point installed, keeping the social infrastructuring of continuous presence running remains an open issue that requires us to rethink how to fund and support living labs and their mission in the long run.

Volume 22 • Issue 03 • 2023 • Special Issue: Living labs under construction: paradigms, practices, and perspectives of public science communication and participatory science