“We are aware of this almost every day during the pandemic,” Science Minister Bernd Seibler said in a video message at the opening of the Forum for the Future of Science Communication at the Catholic University of Eschstett Ingolstadt (KU). The event was held online as part of the “Science in Motion” project, which has been implemented at KU since the fall. Its aim is to make scientific communication more participatory. While citizens in science communication are mostly seen as normal people with little prior knowledge, this is being done by the Federal Ministry of Science and Research (BMBF) a project that has refinanced this perspective.
At the Forum for the Future, the initiators of the project presented how citizens can contribute their knowledge of regional challenges and how they can actively participate in the delivery of science. “The project has done real pioneering work here and developed models that other universities can use as well,” said Sebler. “Science also has a mission to actively contribute to solving current challenges. As a committed university, we consciously assume social responsibility,” said Kuwait University President Gabriel Jane.
About 120 people from universities and scientific institutions across Germany took an active part in the online event to jointly discuss the new approaches. Among other things, the work of the Citizens’ Liberation Bureau that was created as part of the project was shown.
Citizen editors themselves explained to the public how they experienced their involvement and involvement in science: For many volunteers, it was important to be able to report on the issues that currently move many people. The impulse for topics such as “living into old age” or “sustainable lifestyles” often comes from a person’s living environment. For their research, members of the citizen’s editorial team spoke to those affected or to experts from the region as well as to researchers from Kuwait University. The integration of different perspectives has led to contributions in which not only do you initiate a discussion but also want to actively help shape current challenges. “Scientific communication can not only be designed in a participatory manner, as the project has shown, but it also contributes to solving current challenges,” said Thomas Mitten, Head of the Kuwait University Project.
Stephan Knigg, editor in chief of DONAUKURIER and co-operation partner of the “Science in Motion” project, at the same time emphasized that the Citizen Editorial Office was another step in the successful collaboration between the regional newspaper and the Catholic University. Academic forms of communication, such as the previous series of interviews on the topics of “Corona Pandemic” and “The Future of Mobility”, are valuable content of the daily newspaper. Konstantin Schulte Strathaus, a Kuwait University press spokesperson who also participated in the citizens ‘editorial team, reported that he has also witnessed a change of perspective when working with citizens: Citizens’ perceptions of topics and text work have shown that there are also approaches other than the usual professional routine.
Key words for the event came from Felix Hutten, a member of the Knowledge Office at Sddeutsche Zeitung, and Mathias Mayer, head of science at the Koerber Foundation. In his lecture, Felix Hutton put forward the thesis that the Corona epidemic has changed scientific journalism: Scientific journalism is no longer just a mediator and a critical correction of science, in conjunction with science, it also has a new corrective function towards politics and society as well.
The impulsive lecture sparked a lively debate about how science communication in science journalistic institutions and editorial offices works well together. In his call for scientific communication directed towards the public interest, speaker Matthias Mayer of the Carber Foundation noted that the project “Science in Movement” tests important and forward-looking aspects such as citizen participation, which in many cases have not yet found their way into scientific communication at the federal level.
In subsequent workshops, participants noted the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue with citizens in different locations: using examples such as the “driverless” gallery, the joint science fair of the Catholic University and the Technical University of Ingolstadt, or examples from other German cities discussing cities such as the “House of Knowledge”. In Bochum How Participatory Scientific Communication Can Succeed. Gabriel Christ Devlin, scientific communication advisor at the Bavarian Ministry of Science, concluded that the sciences are already taught intensively in Bavarian universities. In the future, it won’t necessarily be a matter of increasing outreach, but rather trying new and different approaches. Thomas Spurer, Head of the Educational Innovation and Knowledge Transfer Department at Kuwait University, also stressed the importance of innovative scientific communication in the context of the transfer of ideas and knowledge as well as in cooperation with external partner organizations.
As part of the project, among other things, a guide is being developed to create and integrate a citizen editorial office into scientific communication at universities. Interested parties can request instructions free of charge after the project is completed. Update