Ecsite 2018 conference – Day 1 afternoon: science shops, and the current practice and future of RRI

The afternoon of the first day of Ecsite 2018 included two parallel sessions (the notes from the morning is available here)

Science shops: participatory innovation, research and equity

Bálint Balázs (ESSRG) – the ESSRG acting as an independent science shop in Hungary, and want to share their and other organisations experience in running science shops.

Norbert Steinhaus  Coordinator International Science Shop, Wissenschaftsladen Bonn – Bonn Science Shop, which created the Living Knowledge network. He started with a definition: science shop provide independent, participatory research, to address civil society concerns. There are two general approaches – science shops that are established in universities, and another type that is a not-for-profit organisation outside universities or museums. The Bonn science shop started in 1984, about 50 members of the association, with a budget of 2.6m EUR and 35 people that are working on different projects. Focus on different engagement and different methods that are suitable for the different stakeholder groups. One of the first projects was Art as a medium of science education, in the Botanic Gardens in Bonn and that led to environmental festivals and other learning experiences. Other activities include the Sparks exhibition, but also with other museums and bodies such as Big Picnic in the Botanic Gardens of Bonn. Getting ideas of bottom-up, expressing concerns is an issue across projects – the idea of a pop-up science shop was and engagement.

María Jesús Pinazo, The Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) – Hospital Clínic – setting science shops in hospitals and different forms of science shops. the inSPIRES project – a project to build effective cooperation between science and society through Science Shops and increasing responsible participatory research. It is a difficult issue to promote science shops in Bolivia or North Africa. In particular, they are thinking about using RRI, open science, open data and having impact evaluation that needs to be part of their project. They take care to think about cultural context, deal with societal issues, and focus on health. The project will review the science shop concept, and they need to think about the approaches, and recreate civil society the response for their demands. They are in particular planning to create a mentoring programme that will support  having new practitioners in science shops. They are looking at transdisciplinary and transnational science shops projects – having multiple communities address the local problems. Different partners, in Bolivia and Tunisia. They also manage to identify similar questions between different shops by noticing which problems are emerging

Giovanna Pacini (University of Florence) organising science cafe every two weeks, with a link to radio programme and also screening the science shop experience. A physicist who works in a centre for the study of complex dynamic and also in a not-for-profit association Caffe Scienza. She was involved in different projects to fund the effort of the science cafe. The events are being streamed and shared on YouTube, a radio programme (RadioMoka) and also run a science communication – more a laboratory for PhD students in physics and computer science. They try to increase interaction between scientists and public through using science cafe as a way to engage people throughout the research. They are creating a new Florence science shop, and the first thing was to explain it using Monopoly as a way to explain the science shop. Pilot projects include citizen science on diabetic patients, traffic and pollution, domestic violence, and urban gardens. They use the science cafe to collect questions for the science shop work. This is also part of InSPIRES project – inspiresproject.com. The science shop in Florence science-shop.complexworld.net and through InSPIRES they can offer mentoring.

Q – how to demystify scientists? In science cafe, it’s more difficult, the control of information and perceptions of science are unclear. If you challenge the scientists to leave your role – e.g. in science cafe, asking the audience and pushing them to move from the role of telling people

Q – how to reach out to stakeholders? Norbert – start with a smaller group and reach out in a way that takes into account the barriers and the need to reach out actively to people.

Q- financing: is it all project based? sustainability should come from institutions which integrate it into their practice, or the municipality. Reaching to policymaking is difficult, and after elections is something can change. Building the relationships with the city helped through projects that then led to other projects. Incentives for scientists and commitment is difficult it is easier to work with students as it can be credited, and the professor by creating a theme for research. Linking paid services (e.g. education activities) to projects as a way to create sustainability. There is a request for flexibility on the researcher side, and the staff don’t focus all the time on the same topic.

The impact is a complex issue, and the InSPIRES project has developed tools to evaluate it and follow it up with qualitative and quantitative measurements. The impact can come indirectly and over time. For example, working with Roma communities in Hungary is very difficult due to a breakdown of trust and they don’t know how to participate, and they don’t see the value in this area. A group of researchers learned from science shops experience and carry out Participatory Action Research – those who are most in need are being ignored. Need to build trust.

Q – is the model of science shop and science cafe are suitable to push museum outside the walls of the institution. There are issues and experimentation of museums in different communication modes, receiving information from the local community. The partners who hosted the exhibition linked to medical professionals, patients and other stakeholders and then use the museum as the space to carry out the work.

A decade of RRI: stepping stones or erratic rocks?

Frank Kupper (Athena Institute, The Netherland) – Responsible Research and Innovation: what people think of include public engagement, informal education. Actually, it’s a central theme in H2020 and triple origin – societal trends, as a way to implement policy goals, and follow up of science/policy work on science and technologies. These three streams have complicated things. It’s a process of opening up science and alignment of science and society, and the second is an umbrella of covering a whole range of issues in research policy and action. The basic idea of RRI is that early stage engagement, you can take a joint responsibility for the future and respond by changing the course of action. It has been a central theme, and in Horizon Europe RRI disappeared, but the underlying concepts are already there in open science or citizen science. We will cover experiences from a project about keeping the RRI spirit alive without the term?

Carmen Fenollosa (Ecsite) – quick presentations on activities, and discussing RRI. HEIRRI project is about RRI in higher education in H2020. Include a state of the art review in the field of teaching. The core of the project included 10 educational programmes that were carried out. The HEIRRI programmes are all open access and available on RRI-tools website. The question is: who is in the best position to make the change?

Annette Klinkert (CEO city2science) – NUCLEUS was also about communication, learning and engagement in universities. In NUCLEUS focus on responsiveness to a different academic area – looking at university governance and influencing this process. Universities can thrive if it is in communication and responsive to the world outside. They have engaged with university leaders and understanding the barriers to RRI – from too complex, it implies irresponsibility… Also visited different countries to work with different places that work with society and universities. They developed a roadmap for the development of RRI and putting the effort to lead to a change, and aiming for “DNA of RRI” that can be put into different organisations. They think of a network of stakeholders? Do we have an understanding of multiple publics? Do we have co-creation expertise – will that risk existing scientific expertise? Are we going to challenge the current academic system? Also about the engagement – with whom? And also what are the changes to institutional structures.

Ilse Marschalek (Centre for Social Innovation, Vienna) – part of the RRI-Tools projects, and new project called New HoRRIzon which manages the RRI-Tools. New HoRRIzon is looking at the link to SDG and the embodiment of RRI into their work. They are creating social lab – a team, process, appropriate space, then carrying out social experiments and having a learning cycle (Newhorrizon.eu). Pilots include maintenance of a community of practice in the social lab activities. They are interested in questions about open science and public engagement – what can public engagement in RRI really fulfil? The approach is focusing on process rather than participants. there is the confusing understanding of science communication, citizen science, public engagement in research projects. There is poor commitment to use the results of the public engagement activity, and myths about time, costs, uselessness.

Carlos Catalao Alves (Pavilion of Knowledge (Pavilhão do Conhecimento) – worked in RRI-Tools and Fit for RRI. Worked in public engagement for 20 years. RRI and Open Science is competing. The workshop that was organised in an RRI project, people talked about the impact of science and the way it can change society and the way society can change research. Actually, there was a need to avoid the term. The idea is that RRI is not brandable, and not being pushed forward is that it didn’t come from the scientific community, but as an agent that will moralise the academic community. The misunderstanding of RRI are companies such as Facebook and technology companies are in trouble, and society turned around companies – Cambridge Analytica is a research company that was doing things that are undesirable. When we started talking about RRI many years ago, the very few researchers – the educators, public engagers there was no problem. However, with researchers, only think that it is about communication of the science. RRI is socially accessible that is answering societal needs.

Lale Dobrivoje (Centar za promociju nauke, Serbia). In RRI tools carried out different activities to train, advocacy meeting and dissemination. They continue to work in the RRING network that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals. RRI still have an opportunity. There are ways of thinking that through funding mechanism and projects period, RRI will influence the next 5 years and then there are other activities. We can also think about the impact through SDG activities.

Leonardo Alfonsi (Director at Psiquadro, Psiquadro scarl) – Perform project is about innovate STEM education – an attempt to combine RRI with the field of performing arts: standup comedy, clowning, and science busking. Trying to create a show together with the audience – secondary school students. They developed forms of performances, in particular with early career researchers. The indications are that the use of RRI values helped in co-producing the performance. And the question is what is the impact of RRI on the creative process?

 

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ECSITE 2015 – Citizen Science & Participatory Practices

MUSE, TrentoOn the last day of ECSITE 2015, the first session on the Future of Citizen Science focused on exploring citizen science with reference to Socientize White Paper on Citizen Science. Paulo Gama Mota started by covering the Socientize project. The project created a platform for citizen science projects, with the science museum of Coimbra providing outreach to different groups. The infrastructure supported projects in cancer research, brain research, physics, meteorology, and ecology. The Cell Spotting project asked people to analyse images from cancer research, and engaged 2000 participants in 50 schools. This was followed with evaluation – interaction with students, teachers and scientists – the project reached out to Japan with students using it at a university, unexpectedly. They also worked with 3 senior academies in the Sun4All project, and they felt engaged, learning things and being ‘useful’. There was interaction directly or through Skype with the scientists in the project – people felt that it’s important. The White Paper on Citizen Science for Europe was covering the range of models – there are potential in the future to create experiments that were impossible in the past. Socientize involved 36,000 volunteers in over 20 projects with scientific outputs. Open questions by scientists are what do I gain by working with volunteers? while for citizens, the question is What do I gain by working with scientists?
Claudia Gobel covered ECSA’s perspective. It provided an overview of the range of activities in Europe. Challenges: funding, link to education and training and provide training in the area, evaluation of projects, engagement; access to technology since citizen science is based on it; data policies are important for collaboration; dissemination and engagement. There are many bottom-up initiatives grown in many places – there are also top down projects that started by museum or science bodies. There are now networks of practitioners  in different parts of the world: CSA, ECSA, ACSA. She explained what ECSA is about – working with the practitioners of citizen science projects. ECSA focus on the fostering activities in the area. Starting to formalise the organisation and what it should do. ECSA’s goals – promoting sustainability through Citizen Science, share knowledge about citizen Science and developing participatory methods for cooperation, empowerment and impact. The role of association is to provide network of contacts, especially in narrow fields, learning and sustainability of the area – much of the investment is project based so can maintain knowledge, advocacy and set standards and quality among practitioners, as well as knowledge on tools and resources – it’s a process of professionalisation of the field.
My talk put in extreme citizen science as an example of community led activities and the potential of using it to increase what citizen science can achieve. I noted that there is a need to understand science differently, in a way that make it more accessible and open.
Lucy Robinson from NHM explored the scientific benefits of engagement outcomes. NHM experimented with many citizen science approaches – from small to large scale, online and offline, and also in mobile apps. They are also mixing modes of citizen science -for example mixing field observations and online citizen science in www.orchidobservers.org . People take pictures of orchids while others help in classifying them. Citizen Science is on the boundary between scientific research and public engagement. The microverse project tried to maximise the scientific outputs and engagement outcomes – with effort in the design and working with schools, it is valued as something interesting and different that is worth while. The future is to have citizen science integrated in NHM galleries. Some of the question are: what are the trade off between scientific and engagement outcomes? How to design it this way? How to connect visitors to citizen science?
The discussion that followed explored several topics. First, asking about the difference between running citizen science in a university or in a science centre? The science centres have advantage in having access to audience and knowledge of how to carry out engagement. Next, regarding the evidence based on citizen science there was question about having not only scientific outcomes (good data, important data & analysis etc.) but also about the process, learning outcomes and what are the long term results. Another question was about the history of citizen science, especially the period where amateurs were ignored or less included – and the Constructing Scientific Communities project was noted. Problems and negative aspects of citizen science can be in not taking into account quality measures in projects and also potential problems in online environments of hacking (e.g. in gamed project where there are scores). Translation of mobile apps was noted as an issue, but there are emerging cases of open to translation citizen science projects. Finally, the opinion of the panel about peer-to-peer science that actively exclude established science from scientific activities. The general opinion was that it is a positive development and professional scientists don’t have to be involved in every project.

The session Participatory practices in science centres, with Justin Dillon, Merethe Froyland, Julie Bønnelycke, Catharina Thiel Sandholdt, Mette Stentoft Therkildsen, and Dagny Stuedahl. They cover the EXPAND and PULSE projects. The PULSE was about the increase in non-communicable diseases and improving health lifestyle. Movement was use as the health factor – co-designed the exhibition with future visitors. Started with wide and open brief and slowly progressed towards the exhibition. A big challenge in the research and development was the issue of time – how to do the project planning. Researcher who work in a participatory way need more time. The issues of recruiting suitable representative are important. Issues of co-design can also include noticing small changes that can help the process of learning. New ideas about the role of education, such as connected learning. Interestingly, some of those who are interested in science wonder why they should be engage with science centre – since they already know about the science. Another interesting point from the session was defining youth as experts – the framing can help in rethinking their role and how to work with them.

ECSITE 2015 sessionThe session Citizen Science –  Reflecting on processes was organised by Carole Paleco (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium) with Anna Omedes (Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain) and Henrik Sell (Natural History Museum, Aarhus, Denmark). Carole opened, noting how citizen scientists are involved in all stages – from data collection, to preparation to publication, and therefore modern citizen science is an extension of existing practices. Anna Omedes described the experience in Barcelona of carrying out Bioblitzes over the past 5 years. The Bioblitz is to discovery and deepen nature knowledge, improve biodivery census and celebrate nature. They started the Bioblitz with the university coordinating, but in the past 3 years the museum is coordinating with the city and other organisations. To be successful, Bioblitz requires a lot of organisations to be involved. They have now 880 participants in this year. lots of areas covered. They create tents for different organisation to set the area, and then start working with different groups in the botanical gardens. People are not just collecting, but also taking pictures and sharing them. People learn to analyse the samples – e.g. working with microscopes. They also have activities for children. They collected over 1627 species. For communication they have a dedicated website. They evaluate the participants’ experience in survey and people had a positive experience. Important  aspects that she identifies include fun, making it local, provide opportunities to identify rare or unusual species, and provide opportunities for new collaborations. Awareness and curiosity in citizens triggered by working in scientist, and new dialogues. A question about the experience of people who are trying to provide false information deliberately – they are checking the data that they are getting. Don’t believe in a single observation report. In project that people go unsupervised, are suitable to monitor how areas are evolving after reclamation where the needs are fairly simple. Henrik Sell talked about rethinking urban habitats – the vision is to think of the city as areas of biodiversity. They do it by physical change, interpretation, and knowledge (mapping and collecting evident). The physical aspect is done with local authorities, the interaction work through ‘Naturbasen’ app that allow people to add information about their area. If people want to help in identification, they can take a picture and have help in identification by volunteers (30,000 registered users) – usually within 2 minutes (like iSpot). They also provide a field guide in the application. In a day they get 2000 records a day, and can get 1,000,000 points across the country. They have lots of information about citizen science activities. To provide feedback to the public, they have a website ‘rethink urban habitats‘ that provide distribution maps that was created from the contributions. They use local grids of 200x200m. They allow options of seeing specific divisions of information. The system is also use for education with schools using the tool and seeing what is relevant in their area. The museum maintain the data for the school so they can go with the activities over the years.
The session continued with 2 questions to discuss in groups. First, what is citizen science for you and how does it apply to your institution (museum or science centre)? Some of the points that came up is a range of involvement in citizen science – from plenty of experience to just starting. Thinking about those that are already engaged (amateur naturalists) and those who are not and can be invited to join. There is value in learning from other projects and sharing methods and resources. Linked to activities that are already happening. Don’t assume that ‘built it and they’ll come’. Some discussion about what is citizen science – between citizenship and participation in science. Potentially constructing the identity of the institution collaboratively. Not using citizens as guinea pigs, involving people in the process as possible. Involving school children in using data for their studies.
The next question – how can we measure if a citizen science project is successful? a possible success – showing scientific outcoemes (quality, rigour), use in policy, social impact, number of people and other engagement goals, behaviour change. There are different objectives and decide which ones should be taken into account. Informed by other participatory projects that are out there – Knowing who else is doing what in other disciplines. Risk of over-promising what has been achieved. Not suggesting one methodology but to offer a range of topics and evaluations and decide what to measure. Consider what you want to achieve. Must consider the time frame of the project.

The final session of the conference was Transforming science centres through responsible innovation with Sheena Laursen, Mai Murmann, Carlos Catalão Alves, Anne-Marie Bruyas, and Marzia Mazzonetto. People work on Responsible Research and Innovation and the role of science centres within that. RRI is about bringing and defining all the different stakeholders – and expectations that exhibitions and programmes are becoming better. Responsiveness and Adaptive Change. Carolos Alves started and try to understand what science centres should do ? There is no ‘science’ explicitly in RRI instead of science and technology. Science is the knowledge that allow us to change the world, and technology is how we do it. The issue of ‘responsible’ is challenging? Are there science and technology that are not-responsible? Need shared meaning of ‘being responsible’. First, ethics – acceptable ethical way. You can also be responsive, listening to stakeholders. RRI questions the sense of responsibility of scientists. There no programme for scientists or policy makers to open science for discussion, but there is an opportunity in science centres. The Cafe Scientifique at the parliament in the past 10 years was a way to introduce responsible research and innovation. The coffee should be good and space should be well organise. Need to give information to people about what it is. A public debate about scientific issues. Lively debate between scientists, public and political representatives. Covering issues fas geology, biodiversity, air quality and more – up to two sessions a year. Issues that matter to people, and having a range of participants. Having a clear information about what is going to be discussed – setting the tone in keynote flashtalk format (5 min), then 1 min pitches, also live streaming and broadcasts, small exhibits also help. Mai Murmann covered the RRI tools – responsible exhibition development. She highlight the important of mindset. Taking cultural practices, norms and interest into account – making science in context. Exhibition for and with people. The exhibition PULS was about health promotion and behaviour change. The involvement was done by working with different families. It is difficult to get into the mindset of RRI – they had to run special sessions to make people thing about involvement and responsiveness, with people making statements and being pictures with it. Anne-Marie Bruyas – using participatory methodologies to introduce RRI in the exhibit, the museum is based in Nepal and the mission is also with a mission to encourage jobs development. They have a science centre with an incubator. They resumed quickly after criminal fire in 2013, and they focus on marine research (relevant to the place). The development of the exhibition was carried out collaboratively, and brought up issues that the organisers didn’t expected. The way they’ve integrated responsiveness is to identify seven characters as special advisers that guide people through the exhibition.  Visitors can compare their reflections to these personas. They also demonstrated some results of scientific research. There are plenty opportunity to find information on the web, so science centre should provide ways for visitors to develop critical thinking. Need to consider continuous challenge – need linking science clubs and science centres. There are opportunities in social media and in citizen science. Marzia Mazzonetto, who is from ECSITE completed the session with reflections on RRI. She noticed 3 aspects: bringing science and scientists closer to the public (exhibition, researchers night etc.) secondly, dialogue and discussions on hot topics of science (PlayDecide; thirdly, introducing participatory exhibitions with and for visitors. All that is falling in ‘public engagement’. However, RRI is more than that – it’s a cycle and require more involvement in other areas. The unmet challenges is how science centres become RRI oriented in their functioning? That require structural change – moving beyond box ticking gender approach for example (inside the science centres management and not only in exhibitions) or some people are committed but find it hard to convince colleagues. Science centres play an important role in equipping citizens to understand that they can play a role and become part of the process.

 

 

ECSITE 2015 – food for curious minds (day 2)

ECSITE Sustainability wallThe ECSITE conference which was held in the beautiful MUSE museum in Trento, Italy is the annual gathering of the practitioners and researchers in the area of science museums and science centres. I attended two of the three days of the conference. The notes below are from some of the sessions that I joined, learning about what are the issues that concern science museums and galleries. I find it fascinating to attend conferences of disciplines that I’m not familiar with – spending my time listening and learning about what are their concerns, plans, issues and ways of thinking and working. The theme ‘food for curious minds’ clearly worked for me.

The Social Inclusion workshop explored personal experiences of practitioners with the project of engagement. The session asked ‘Social inclusion – A fashionable trend? The fundamental question is: why do we want to be inclusive? Are we missing someone or do we think “they” are missing out on the wonderful experiences we have to offer? Do we programme inclusive activities to get special sponsoring or raise visitor numbers? Do we consider inclusion as a trend that we must follow? Or are we truly curious about our non-visitors?‘ and was convened by Barbara Streicher. The organisers started with interventions to explain what inclusiveness mean to them: Simona Ceratto asked the question on why is it easy to work with children, up to 10 or 11, but once they are young adults (16-18) they are not part of the audience that is involved in museum activities? Anna Gunnarsson thought about meeting and communicating with people anywhere. We need to focus on the people that we meet and consider where they are. Very poor people from remote communities are just excluded from activities by not thinking about them. There are only thing that we can learn when we meet people from other parts of the world – starting from personal realisation about the importance of exclusion. Matteo Merzagora considered how to make maker-space more inclusive – as demonstrated by involving disabled people and disadvantaged people together in working in a maker-space in Paris. Moving away from concept of ‘ideal visitors’  and discovering lots of missing dialogues. Inclusiveness need to have a lot of gaps to allow things to happen and for them to be complete. Barbara Streicher noted from her activities around mathematics – people discover how they are doing different calculations, noticing how people from different cultures are reaching the same results but in different ways. Inclusiveness might mean accepting that people work in different ways – don’t assume that we all count to 5 in the same way.
Following this introduction, a core question for the workshop was why are you doing inclusion? In pairs, we continuously asked ‘why?’ to get to the deep meaning about personal and institutional reasons to promote inclusion. The search for the reasons behind the drive to inclusion revealed  that participants raise many ethical and moral concerns as their core reasons – expressing humanity, justice, equity while the perception of organisational motives where more pragmatic. Following that, open questions that participants identified as the type that will not go away include: how to be inclusive without ‘normalising’ (conformist) in a field like science which is powerful and universal? How to support disadvantaged group without making the disadvantage the centre? Is there love in the activities of social inclusion or is it because we have to? If member of staff are less valued by visitors than others, how do we act? who is really welcome in our institutions (is there a list of people that are excluded). Inclusion to what?

In the discussion about Redefining Science Centres questions about the need for buildings and physical presence were raised, as well as questions about the need for exhibits, and even if there is a need for scientist or science. Lynn Scarfe (Science Gallery, Dublin) describe the method of Science Gallery, Dublin which is a short cycle of shows, open call for exhibitions, counter-intuitive teams. Need compelling experiences to attract people to come in. Andy Lloyd (International Centre for Life, Newcastle) suggest that ‘do we need science?’  information is not scarce any more, so not primary source any more. If we focus on information too much, than what it say about the nature of science – it’s not about learning the textbook.
During discussions, there was suggestion that science centres are about cultural interactions and these interactions are important. There is a challenge of transitioning from a traditional exhibit space into an experience space. It is not enough to have flexible space but also flexible teams.
In the discussion around the role of Science it was noted that there is a need to consider practices and experiences, but to what degree the goal is to ‘recruit scientists’? There is an aim to make people curious about science, but that doesn’t necessarily done by just telling them about science. Science centres do put themselves in their own ivory towers, which is a risk. The degree of knowledge about the lessons from Science and Technology Studies, history of science or sociology is important. Understanding science as multi-faceted practice is one role of science centres. It is important to have scientists involved. Questions about the value of buildings and specific centres is important – the visitors might need the building, or maybe they should be visible cultural symbols (like churches). Regarding exhibits – flexibility is critical, they should be ‘platforms’ to just discussion and engagements off. Also know what the business of the organisations: meeting place, sharing science info etc. Having the audience creating the exhibit – co-creation.

The session Maker Space – Hacking the Institution discussed the complex relationships between the maker and hacker movements, and the integration of ‘makers’ or ‘hackers’ within museums or science centres. While I caught only part of the discussion, it was interested to hear about a journey to make these activities acceptable within the general activities of museums/science centres (a journey that citizen science is just starting) and the challenges of aligning the modes of operation, practices, plans and goals between the loosely organised and coordinated enthusiasts, and the science organisation. Aligning the goals and getting the activities to work well seem to be challenging.