It was a successful and exciting Berlin Science Week and Falling Walls Science Summit! This year, they took place in Berlin, one of the first in-person events that reunited the science community internationally.

The International Year of Science Engagement (IYSE) participated from 6 to 9 November with various activities. We participated in a workshop and Round Table on Science Engagement, discussing global and local challenges and the further institutionalisation of the field. At the Falling Walls Engage Pitches, we focused on networking with the Falling Walls Engage Community and the 2021 winners to grow the IYSE Science Engagement network. Throughout the conference, we took the opportunity to host Brain Dates to meet relevant network and media partners to further expand the IYSE partner networking strategy.

1) Workshop “Shaping the Future of Science Engagement”

During the Community Day on 6 November, the IYSE participated in a workshop organised by Falling Walls Engage on how global and local challenges can be addressed through Science Engagement.

Traditionally, one day before the Falling Walls Engage Pitches, the Falling Walls Engage winners come together at the Community Day to network and discuss Science Engagement. In this workshop, Science Engagement practitioners brought their expertise and the perspectives of their Science Engagement communities into the workshop discussion, to debate the future of the Science Engagement field.

What are the main learnings?

The IYSE and Falling Walls Engage should promote more Science Engagement projects that focus on the topics of

  • equality;
  • climate change and environmental topics;
  • inclusiveness and accessibility;
  • health global challenges;
  • Science Engagement platforms;
  • science, technology and innovation.

The IYSE and Falling Walls Engage should promote more co-participatory and co-creative Science Engagement projects that follow these criteria:

  • tackle real-life challenges/problems;
  • follow design thinking and hackathon approaches;
  • involve local communities in the entire process;
  • involve scientists in tackling challenges and bring them closer to the communities;
  • listen to the communities needs;
  • listen to communities’ perception of science;
  • train scientists in Science Engagement;

The IYSE and Falling Walls Engage should promote the institutionalization of Science Engagement through:

  • promoting training of scientists in Science Engagement;
  • lobbying with funders to provide more funds for Science Engagement, including quotas for Science Engagement in research projects;
  • potentiate reward/incentive systems that recognize Science Engagement efforts made by scientists.

The learnings and conclusions of this workshop will help to shape the 2022-2025 strategy of the Falling Walls Engage and International Year of Science Engagement initiatives.

Read the full report here.

2) Falling Walls Engage Pitches

On 7 November, 20 Falling Walls Engage Winners came together to pitch their projects on stage during the Falling Walls Engage Pitches. The 20 Winners have been selected out of 50 outstanding Finalists and many more excellent applications.

The focus of the IYSE was on networking with the 2021 Falling Walls Engage winners to further expand IYSE’s Science Engagement network.

 

Please note: The numbers indicated do not count as ranking.

1. Jacqueline GoldinDiamonds on the Soles of Their Feet, South Africa

2. Mohammed ZaidLYBOTICS, Libya

3. Judy BaariuDifu Simo – A Mental Health Campaign in Kilify County, Kenya

4. Anastasia KochEH!WOZA, South Africa

5. Stanley AnigboguStem4Her, Nigeria

6. Joana MoscosoNative Scientist, United Kingdom

7. Jahnavi PhalkeyCONTAGION, India

8. Attila SzantnerMassively Multiplayer Online Science (MMOS), Switzerland

9. Mónica Feliú-MójerAquí Nos Cuidamos, Puerto Rico

10. Michael KasumovicArludo, Australia

11. Yisalemush Asefa, 10+10+30 Radio Project for the Promotion of Childhood Vaccination, Ethiopia

12. AnnMarie ThomasOK Go Sandbox, United States

13. Lindsay KeithSMASHfestUK, United Kingdom

14. Oscar Contreras-VillarroelConCiencia Mobile Labs, Chile

15. Lala Rukh Fazal-Ur-RahmanScience Fuse, Pakistan

16. Gabriela de la TorrePrograma Adopte un Talento (PAUTA), Mexico

17. Kyerewaa BoatengDocu-Drama to Engage Deaf Students, Ghana

18. Sara NiksicCanticum Megapterae – Song of the Humpback Whale, Croatia

19. Fatemeh Bonyadi, Soha, Iran

20. Stephane KenmoeMAKING SCIENCE THE STAR, Cameroon

 

Their projects can be found on the website of Falling Walls Engage here. All pitches of the Falling Walls Engage Winners can be viewed in the Falling Walls Content Library.

3) Round Table “Shaping the Future of Science Engagement”

The Round Table Shaping the Future of Science Engagement was integrated in the Round Table’s programme of the Falling Walls Science Summit 2021 on 8 November 2021. The focus of the discussion was on the promotion of participatory and co-creative Science Engagement projects as well as on the implementation of projects that contribute to the further institutionalisation of Science Engagement.

As a Cascading Debates Format, the questions that were discussed in this Round Table were also discussed on the Community Day Workshop on 6 November. During the workshop, the practitioners discussed the questions in small groups and then presented their conclusions to the other groups. In the end of the workshop, one practitioner was elected as the Science Engagement practitioner representative that would transport the views of the practitioners and Science Engagement communities from all over the world, into the debate of this Round Table.

The Round Table counted with the presence of relevant stakeholders – Science Engagement practitioners and institutions, science institutions, civil society organizations, policymakers, funding institutions, and industry leaders – with expertise from their respective fields. Under the moderation of Rebecca Winkels  (Wissenschaft im Dialog), Kari Mug (Mawazo Institute), Nick Ishmael-Perkins (International Science Council), Rodrigo Tapia Seaman (Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation of Chile), Tina Stengele (Robert Bosch Stiftung) and Wiebke Rössig (Fallling Walls Foundation) discussed about shaping the future of the Science Engagement field.

The conclusions and insights that resulted from this Round Table discussion are presented below and will be integrated into the planning of IYSE and Falling Walls Engage activities:

  • Develop and implement more activities that follow co-participatory and co-creative Science Engagement approaches/methods/tools, by e.g. potentiating activities that follow those approaches through the IYSE and investing in activities that bring together practitioners, scientists, citizens, policymakers and industry leaders (Cascading Debates, Citizen-Science activities and co-creation workshops on global challenges in the Falling Walls Engage Hubs.
  • Potentiate capacity-building on Science Engagement impact assessment and knowledge-sharing on research on the field of Science Engagement.
  • Develop mission-oriented initiatives that target global challenges aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as focus on highlighting and fostering Science Engagement that addresses global challenges
  • Potentiate Science Engagement that focuses on approaches/methods/tools of involving hard-to-engage target-groups, either by giving visibility to these practices, by promoting best-practices exchange or by promoting training on these skills
  • Develop capacity-building activities on Science Engagement, for scientists, namely with programmes that are also interdisciplinary
  • Develop, implement, and disseminate more tools that enable the exchange and learning between scientists and citizens
  • Gather best-practices on Science Engagement methods, tools, approaches and disseminate them with the Science Engagement community

Read the full report here.

4) IYSE Brain Dates

During the Falling Walls Science Summit from November 7-9, the IYSE took the opportunity to meet in the Brain Dates Lounge to discuss relevant network and media partners, and to further build on the IYSE partnership and networking strategies. Brain Dates are hosted at the conference for networking and idea-sharing purposes.

In total we had 1 Brain Date with government officials and 3 Brain Dates that were completely open to pre-registered attendants at the Science Summit. We posed the following questions to interested participants from the fields of science, politics, diplomacy, and Science Engagement:

  • What themes would be good to include during the IYSE?
  • What does Science Engagement look like in your countries?
  • Who are the most prominent Science Engagement practitioners you know from your countries?
  • Do you personally know any Science Engagement experts who are also familiar with and engaging in diplomacy work?
  • What entities in your home countries would be good partners for IYSE?
  • How can Science Engagement be more inclusive?
  • What SDGs are the most important when linking Science Engagement activities in your countries and fields of focus?
  • What is Science Engagement ‘’failing in’’ and how can we better develop?
  • Would you be willing to participate in consultation calls, IYSE workshops, webinars, and other events in the future?

Some of our learnings include the following:

  • Sometimes science misses opportunities to engage with certain Science Engagement practitioners, whose projects show huge potential, because their fields are considered to be “too out of the box.” For example, one participant from the IYSE Brain Date is working on connecting citizen science activities with video games. He stated, “My work does not fit into the biggest categories, such as ‘Science and Games’ and ‘Science and Video Games’’ or science in the upcoming metaverses.”
  • Science cannot be engaged in by many members of society due to class and “positions within society”. Another IYSE Brain Date participant comes from a nuclear science institute in Mexico, where such scientific work is often viewed as “work for the higher classes.” The participant said it was unfortunate that science and practitioners allow these prejudices to be made, which means that many children and young people who do not come from wealthy families do not have easy access to the field of (nuclear) science.
  • When asked which main United Nations Sustainable Development Goals IYSE should focus on, the following was mentioned:
    • Reaching out to vulnerable groups and people who would benefit a lot from science, such as refugees and migrants.
    • Sustainable development and climate change.
    • Inclusion in STEM and ensuring it is about equity (beyond gender).
    • Funding for Science Engagement practitioners and practitioners, especially for those who come from the global south.
    • Including more marginalzed and neglected communities and sectors of our societies, specifically indigenous people.
    • Supporting women and young girls of color.
  • There is often a gap between scientists doing research and practitioners doing Science Engagement. One participant, who engages publics in science in Egypt, stated that “Science in Egypt is considered a luxury. Funding is a big issue in Egypt, Science Engagement in particular. There is a big gap between scientists who do research in science communication and the practitioners and the science communities themselves.” Another participant from a different Brain Dates session also brought up the same concern and said: “Some scientists are getting involved for the high science. The big companies will send over a representative or a group of reps to move things around, but it feels like a big gap and scientists do not actually engage with each other.”
  • Science should support more “out of the box” projects and there should be a focus on bringing arts and science together.
  • Politics often gets in the way of science. Though the intent is still there, governments sometimes do things for show, which prevents science from being shared and communicated with local and national communities.
  • It should be noted that all participants in the Brain Dates were very keen on collaborating in the future. We received amazing feedback regarding how to go about conducting activities related to the United Nations sustainable development goals during the IYSE. All participants wanted to participate in helping the IYSE develop and agreed to join us for future in-person and online events. They believe such an UN International Year is needed to bridge the gaps between science, Science Engagement practitioners, governments, the general public, and research. “Science should be accessible to all” is a statement everyone agreed with.

For further information regarding the IYSE or the content presented on this page, please contact us at internationalyear@falling-walls.com.

Would you like to get involved? You can find further information about partnerships here.