Vetenskap & Allmänhet, VA, is an association aimed at promoting openness and trust between the public and researchers. Our experiences and studies show that science catches people’s imagination when they perceive it as meaningful and view it in its proper context. When this is the case, then people become very interested in discussing science.

By arranging a big Science Extravaganza in Stockholm the last three years VA has gained a lot of experience about best practice – through experiments, hands-on activities, shows, dialogues etc. In 2006 and 2007 VA was coordinator of the science event ForskarFredag taking place in eleven Swedish cities as part of the European Researchers' Night.

VA also arranges Science Cafés; an open forum where the public is invited to meet scientists and discuss topical issues over a cup of coffee. The aim is for both scientists and laymen to gain new knowledge and insights, the participants being the ones directing the dialogue with the help of a moderator.

Since 2002 VA has been arranging Science Dialogues between researchers and young people. The starting point is a question of actual interest to the target group, such as ‘why do we fall in love?’ The dialogues are arranged in unconventional forms and venues, e.g. in squares, in shopping malls, during sport games or fairs.

The participating scientist is a key person. He/she must be a good communicator, able to make the subject engaging and be open to discussion. It is also important to explain the format and to invite the audience to participate from the start.

Most researchers believe that public engagement is interesting, stimulating and gives new insights, according to VA’s studies. In spite of that, researchers relatively seldom engage in outreach activities. A major reason is that public engagement rarely results in higher merits or additional funding.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Public engagement through science dialogue

Cissi Askwall   Vetenskap & Allmänhet

Vetenskap & Allmänhet, VA, is an association aimed at promoting openness and trust between the public and researchers. Our experiences and studies show that science catches people’s imagination when they perceive it as meaningful and view it in its proper context. When this is the case, then people become very interested in discussing science.

By arranging a big Science Extravaganza in Stockholm the last three years VA has gained a lot of experience about best practice – through experiments, hands-on activities, shows, dialogues etc. In 2006 and 2007 VA was coordinator of the science event ForskarFredag taking place in eleven Swedish cities as part of the European Researchers' Night.

VA also arranges Science Cafés; an open forum where the public is invited to meet scientists and discuss topical issues over a cup of coffee. The aim is for both scientists and laymen to gain new knowledge and insights, the participants being the ones directing the dialogue with the help of a moderator.

Since 2002 VA has been arranging Science Dialogues between researchers and young people. The starting point is a question of actual interest to the target group, such as ‘why do we fall in love?’ The dialogues are arranged in unconventional forms and venues, e.g. in squares, in shopping malls, during sport games or fairs.

The participating scientist is a key person. He/she must be a good communicator, able to make the subject engaging and be open to discussion. It is also important to explain the format and to invite the audience to participate from the start.

Most researchers believe that public engagement is interesting, stimulating and gives new insights, according to VA’s studies. In spite of that, researchers relatively seldom engage in outreach activities. A major reason is that public engagement rarely results in higher merits or additional funding.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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