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Singing from the same sheet – Social networks for fusion communication

Petra Nieckchen  

International collaboration is a common feature, if not a requirement, of today's multidisciplinary research. In this context European funded research on the realisation of fusion energy is no exception. What is special or might even be unique in fusion research is frequent, international collaboration on the level of communication. The FuseCOM network comprises fusion communicators representing 26 European member states plus Switzerland and therewith 29 research organisations. The quest for a new, abundant energy source is a concerted effort funded by Euratom and facilitated by the EUROfusion consortium. Ideally, all participating parties sing from the same sheet when communicating on key aspects of the research in their respective countries and languages. What are the necessary ingredients to achieve coherent messages across borders, institutes, and mentalities? The short answer is as simple as providing means to communicate and facilitate regular interaction and training. The rest is ambition, believe in the project, and making good use of the digital tools. This paper presents not just a description of the FuseCOM network. It also analyses the functioning of the network, based on a collaboration between the communication network and sociologists from the socioeconomic studies group, also funded by EUROfusion. This paper will thus present exploratory findings of a group exercise carried out with network members during the annual meeting. Through task-oriented research methods such as personal meaning maps, SWOT analysis and resource allocation, alongside group discussions, we were able to gather in-depth information about the meanings, challenges and opportunities of communicating fusion within the framework of an international network.

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