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ESConet Trainers

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Teaching scientists to share their work with the public

Scientific research has become central to solving the challenges of the modern world, but it is often not well communicated to the general public. A science communication training network is changing this by teaching researchers the skills they need to engage with the public.

Digital Economy

The European Commission, the executive body of the EU, said in 2001 that ordinary citizens are out of step with science research and innovation. To address this, researchers needed to communicate better and more honestly with the public, and engage with them on issues surrounding technology and innovation. This led to the creation and execution of the EU-funded 'Esconet trainers' (ESCONET) project, which developed flexible science communication courses at various institutions throughout Europe. Participating countries were Germany, Ireland, Spain, France and the United Kingdom, and the courses were taught in a number of languages. Courses were also designed as a series of flexible modules that were used to make up both basic and advanced communication workshops. The basic workshop covered press releases, interviews and basic web communication tools, while the advanced course addressed risk communication, policy discussion and engaging public dialogue. Over the two-year project period, 11 basic workshops and nine advanced workshops were delivered. Surveys of workshop participants revealed that the courses assisted them with written and oral communication, and improved their confidence when communicating with the public. This project has thus contributed to bridging the gap between the scientific community and the public. By providing communication training for scientists, ESCONET project efforts will have a long-term positive impact by improving the public's understanding of science.

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