RETHINK research on underserved audiences presented at Inclusive SciComm Symposium – October 16th

Breaking the fear, breaking the barriers: The approaches and roles of science communicators when working with underserved audiences.

Inclusive science communication, or inclusive scicomm, is a global movement to shift the traditional paradigm of science communication toward an approach that centers inclusion, equity, and intersectionality. The biennial symposium is an international convening of practitioners, trainers, researchers, educators, funders, and others who work across diverse disciplines and settings to prioritize inclusion, equity, and intersectionality in all forms of science communication. View the ISCS21 Agenda at a Glance.

A survey of science communicators across Europe conducted within RETHINK showed that relatively few of those who communicate science (29%, n=465) seek to reach audiences who would be considered ‘underserved’ with their activities (Milani et al. 2020a). This presentation explored the result of interviews conducted with 32 science communicators in Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Sweden and the UK who had indicated that they sought to reach underserved audiences. They work as press officers, writers and journalists, researchers who communicate about their work, as well as public engagement officers. Interviewees described a wide range of audiences they considered or found harder to engage, such as those from certain socioeconomic backgrounds, older people, younger people, local communities, as well as those disinterested in science.

This presentation highlighted the approaches science communicators designed and undertook to change the dynamic between scientists and citizens, as well as roles being adopted by some of today’s science communicators that may help to foster connections with new audiences. It is now well-documented that when science is communicated, audiences are most typically white, affluent, with relatively high levels of formal education and a pre-existing interest in science (Dawson, 2019; Kennedy, Jensen and Verbeke, 2017; Humm, Schrögel and Leßmöllmann, 2020). The presentation focused on some of the practical steps being taken by science communicators to create closer connections between science and all members of society, so that the future trajectory of science may be informed by citizens as well as the scientific community.

IDEA-THON: sensemaking applied to science engagement practice

Join a mini idea-thon facilitated by our project partner Ecsite and work in a group with five professional peers over four, weekly sessions on practical science engagement case studies and creative challenges to try out new conceptual tool design by the RETHINK project.

Register here until 26 October 2021

The central concept of the Workroom will be following the sensemaking theory – which explores how people make sense of science and the world by bridging the gaps in their knowledge with previous experiences, expectations, emotions, values and interests.

As part of the RETHINK project, researchers have been exploring how sensemaking can be applied to science engagement – and they believe that it opens new ways of interacting with audiences, whether new or old. They have also identified a series of roles and repertoires used in science communication, a useful way to reflect on your own practice and expand your palette.

Join us to explore new ways of interacting with your audiences and harvest ideas for engagement with new and underserved audiences. After getting familiar with the theory, you’ll work as part of a small team of practitioners and explore what sensemaking, roles and repertoires could bring to a specific science engagement challenge. You’ll be able to “pitch” your own case study for group work or learn a lot by putting your creativity at the service of someone else.

Invited experts, as champions and disruptors will be helping teams throughout their four-week creative process, and there will also be time for reflective moments on your own practice and discussion on how we can begin bringing ideas back to our daily professional lives. The Workroom will culminate in a final (and joyful!) pitch session where promising ideas will be harvested and shared with the wider science engagement community.

The Workroom will be held online on 9, 16, 23 and 30 November. Creative sessions will take place between 13:30 and 16:30 CET. Some individual work between sessions will be required, which should take up to 60 minutes each week. All science engagement professionals that want to commit to experimenting together are eligible to participate.

The Workroom is free of charge and places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Register here until 26 October 2021 – or until all places have been filled.

RETHINK at Future of SciComm Conference – June 25th

RETHINK took part in the Future of Scicomm conference with the Workshop “Rethinking Science Communication – how to integrate research and practice for effective and responsible science communication”, led by Dr. Frank Kupper (Athena Institute for Research on Innovation and Communication in Health and Life Sciences, VU Amsterdam), Aleksandra Kowalska (Ecsite) and Dr. Birte Fähnrich (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities/Zeppelin University).

The Future of Science Communication Conference brings together European actors from research and practice of science communication. It is co-organised by Wissenschaft im Dialog, the organization for science communication in Germany, and ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities. In 2021 the conference took place online on 24-25 June.

The workshop dealt with questions of open science and participation by focussing on the field of science communication itself. In recent years, science communcation research and practice have developed significantly. However, platforms for mutual exchange and reflection of both fields have been rare. As a consequence, practice often does not reflect research based evidence and research overlooks concerns and challenges of the practice. We argue that science communication research and practice should jointly develop new forms of exchange, mutual reflection and participation as to enhance effective and responsible science communication. 

To this end, the workshop presented a participatory format of research-practice interaction that has been developed and applied in seven European countries in the context of the Horizon 2020-funded project RETHINK. The format called RETHINKER spaces brings researchers and practitioners from different fields of science communication together to adress mutual expectations and needs. RETHINKER spaces are a valuable platform to gather data and to discuss research findings, also with regard to their applicablility to the day-to-day routines of science communicators.

During the workshop, we 1) shared insights and learnings, 2) asked participants to contribute their experiences and 3) used this as a starting point for a world cafe setting to develop new ideas on how to open up science communication research and practice in the future.

Rethinking science communication: opening up research to peers

Online workshop series

This online workshop series is aimed at engaging the community of science communication professionals and scholars in order to reflect on the latest research outcomes together. This is a great opportunity to hear more about the latest research findings in the field and to meet and reflect together on the most useful tools for the community. There will be lots of interaction, digital post-its and an ambition for shared outcomes. Join us to become our critical friend

#3 Connecting with Underserved Audiences: Creating Conversations and Trust

It is now well-documented that when science is communicated, audiences are most typically white, affluent, with relatively high levels of formal education and a pre-existing interest in science. But how can we challenge that in our practices and as a sector? Join two members of the RETHINK team, Andy Ridgway and Clare Wilkinson, to explore the approaches and roles being adopted by some of today’s science communicators that may help to foster connections with new or underserved audiences. And in collaboration with Vanessa Mignan, take the opportunity to explore your own practices and intentions when seeking to engage inclusively and innovatively.

Led by Andy Ridgway, Dr Clare Wilkinson – University of the West of England

29 September 2021, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. CET

Video recording available below

#2 Good quality science communication in a digital world

The so called infodemic around Covid 19 and the rise of misinformation has raised once more the need for quality science communication. However, the demands for “quality science communication“ leave the question of what this actually means unanswered.

Questions arise, such as: what is good science communication online? Are there criteria to assess science communication quality? And how do they differ when we compare, for instance, science media reporting, science podcasts or scicomm stories on Instagram, to name but few examples?

The workshop aims to address these questions in a discursive way. To this end, we will present results from a Delphi study that explored issues around quality in science communication in digital contexts. In the course of the study approx. 30 science communication scholars from around the globe shared their perspectives on how to assess and how to promote science communication quality online.

This workshop will provide an opportunity to hear about the research findings and discuss their implications. We anticipate focusing particularly on how quality criteria could be applied by actors ranging from university press officers to bloggers. All of whom are increasingly prevalent in the digital sphere.

Led by Dr Emma Weitkamp – University of the West of England, Dr Birte Fähnrich – Zeppelin University 

10 May 2021, 14:00 – 16:00 CET

Video recording available below

#1 Making sense of (mis)information in a digital world

The first workshop will look at the research results related to how insights into sensemaking could help us deal with the abundance of fragmented, incomplete and sometimes misleading information. We will present the results of 7 European workshops with science communicators that explored the issue of making sense of the COVID-19 pandemic. How science communicators can adapt to the reality of sensemaking practices to support dialogue about the pandemic? And how can we support each other to move forward? All of these and other questions will be explored in an interactive workshop aimed at sharing best practices and inspiring future research activities.

Led by Dr Frank Kupper, Virgil Rerimassie, Tessa Roedema – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

15 February 2021, 14:30 CET

Video recording available below

Sensemaking practices around Coronavirus: a RETHINK led webinar

Wednesday 1 July at 10:00 – 11:30 CEST

As part of our mission to provide a 360° view of the current science communication landscape, our research team is investigating citizen sensemaking practices around science.

Although specific piece of research was initially expected to revolve around climate change, the current pandemic offered a unique opportunity that could not be missed. The COVID-19 outbreak put the spotlight on two interrelated trends that are profoundly changing the science-society relationship and complicating the public communication about science: 1) The boundaries between science and society are blurring leading to more collaboration, but also more controversy. 2) The digitalisation of the media landscape has created many diverse online arenas where science is openly contested, negotiated and transformed, by scientists and politicians, many other actors involved.

Under these circumstances, the way individuals and communities make sense of the COVID-19 outbreak is crucial. We all make sense of this complex reality from our own, limited and incomplete, perspective. What are the best strategies to build open and trustworthy relationships between science, media, politics and citizens? And what are the required roles and responsibilities of scientists and science communicators?

Details of the webinars and link to connect here.

First Rethinkerspace in Bristol

In terms of interesting discussions from the first meeting, one of the themes that came up was how online science communication has transformed science communication from the from the cathedral, with few people communicating to large audiences, to the bazaar – many-to-many dynamic communication.

While this has been a force for good, allowing more diversity of voices in science communication, the transformation from the cathedral to the bazaar has also presented problems. For example there’s the problem of ‘fake goods’ – how do people know who to trust with accurate information? There’s also the cacophony of noises – an overload of information and sources of information online.

RETHINK kick-off meeting

RETHINK project partners and third parties met for the first time on 13-14 February 2019 at a farm in Koudekerk a/d Rijn, in the Netherlands. 22 participants joined the meeting. Besides discussing upcoming project activities, participants had the opportunity to get to know each other better, through activities such as appreciative inquiry walks, as well as envision future project outcomes through hands-on activities.