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SiS Catalyst: Children as Change Agents for the future of Science in Society

Final Report Summary - SIS CATALYST (SiS Catalyst: Children as Change Agents for the future of Science in Society)

Executive Summary:
As one of the very first Mobilisation of Mutual Learning Action Plans, SiS Catalyst: Children As Change Agents for the future of Science in Society was an ambitious project based on a very simple idea that: ‘as children are the future, we must involve them in the decisions of today.’ Through the development of this idea the project attempted to initiate new thinking and practice required to address the global challenges of the 21st century.

During the four-year funding period more than 50 organisations from over 30 countries were involved, working and learning together on a collective experiment to develop a model for a new educational ecosystem that places children as the drivers of the learning experience. What the project has illustrated is that spanning the many countries involved, a common feature is inequality in access to knowledge, education and then opportunity. But while this inequality is common, those who suffer from it is not. It is defined locally, the product of historical, economic and cultural forces. The experiences of those brought together by SiS Catalyst show that while the challenges facing the world may be global, the solutions are to a great extent intensely local. They require the building of an ecosystem to engage children that is nuanced, flexible and sensitive to local context if it is to thrive.

However at the heart of SiS Catalyst thinking is the recognition that how we are developing globally is currently unsustainable. We are currently putting the future of ALL human life in the balance. We have to find ways of developing our science with and for the future of the world. This means ALL of us - ALL scientists and ALL societies. This is our shared and collective agenda - all our individual agendas are tiny tributaries of this first and fundamental obligation.

The ultimate need of society is its own survival and this is what our current actions are putting into jeopardy. We as adults can find the simplicity of this concept difficult to embrace. Involvement of the perception of children within research and innovation policy and practice focuses the attention on the children’s future as that is what we are collectively co-creating, enabling adults to recall the authenticity of thinking like a child.

In 2009, when the SiS Catalyst proposal was written, the expression Science in Society was being used, however by 2014 the phrase Science With and For Society has been adopted by the European Commission. This transition of thinking has been a fundamental aspect of the SiS Catalyst learning and is also directly linked to the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation. This concept requires that societal actors work together during the whole research and innovation process in order for research and innovation policy to be driven by the needs of society.

This growing recognition of the need for public engagement is the key element of the Responsible Research and Innovation ethos, which underpins Horizon 2020. The major message of SiS Catalyst is that children are societal actors and must be recognised as a ‘public’ in their own right. If we are going to engage with children as societal actors, then the processes involved must enable the young people to be empowered, to feel respected, to feel more confident in their own ability to make choices and decisions, in the short term but also in the future.

The other key message of SiS Catalyst is fundamentally positive – not only must we change but we can change. The process is well under way and we have to embrace change rather than resist it. This is the paradigm shift needed: our ability to think differently, to think globally, to recognise our shared humanity and to lose our fear of change. Listening to children (and acting upon this) is the quickest way for us to think differently.

The paradigm shift requires us to be open in our thinking and to remember ourselves what it is like to think like a child, free from the judgements that we have absorbed throughout our lifetime. To be curious and excited by the prospect of change but fundamentally thinking ethically and trusting our intuition as to what is right and what is wrong.

In order for this paradigm shift to occur - we recognised that we need to find different ways of thinking about ourselves, our shared future, and the world we want to bequeath our children. We proposed that we do this in partnership with the future i.e. in collaboration with our young people.

Project Context and Objectives:
SiS Catalyst was an ambitious attempt to initiate the new thinking and practice required if we are meet the challenges of the 21st century through the development of the simple idea:

‘as children are the future, we must involve them in the decisions of today’

During the four-year funding period more than 50 organisations from over 30 countries were involved and the consortium engaged museums, galleries, theatres, non-government organisations, community organisations, universities, children and young people to create a global innovation network sharing ideas and practice regarding how children can be engaged in the educational process in a different way.

SiS Catalyst was one of the very first Mobilisation of Mutual Learning Action Plans (MMLAP) supported by funding from the European Commission. It was envisaged that MMLAP would encompass projects which were able to “create mechanisms to: address societal challenges where science and technology are involved bring together a wider range of actors and pool their knowledge and experience facilitate mutual understanding and develop joint solutions and research 
agendas."(EU,2010:5)

The overall objectives of SiS Catalyst were:

To address the question of how we include children in the dialogue between society and the scientific and technological community, with the objective of capturing the mutual learning of the wide range of different discussion partners, from children to higher education managers including scientists, policy makers, civil society organisations, parents, schools, and to robustly disseminate and communicate this in regional, national, European arenas and beyond.

To learn from ten over-lapping work packages in order to develop eight case studies of successful interactions among children and higher education institutions, with associated practical guides. These were to be informed by young people, students and key player, and systematically rolled out in order to build the capacity of new-comers through training, exchange of best practices and a Mentoring programme.

Through the development of a Pan European and Mutual Agreement Process build tools which enable Higher Education Institutions to self evaluate and test their progress of enriching their aspirations of Lifelong Learning and social inclusion with SiS activities with children, both on a strategic and practical level, and to contextual these in regional, national, European and global contexts.

The consortium of SiS Catalyst comprised a range of professional actors involved with science and society in the broadest sense. They brought with them considerable and extensive experience from a range of backgrounds, academic disciplines, organisations as well as countries. As one of the very first MMLAPs, the consortium co-created a shared understanding of what we mean by children as change agents for science and society, and from that basis developed the convincing arguments for change that are required plus the identification of the audience for these to be disseminated to.

The project had four distinct phases.

Phase 1: Think Big - this first six months established a shared vision within the consortium.

Phase 2: Start Small - during this eighteen month period existing delivery models were refined and piloted whilst the SiS Catalyst consortium explored the concept of mutual learning through the process of identifying arguments for change.

Phase 3: Scale Fast - during this year the rolling out of the Mentoring Associates programme and the Strategic Paper: Children as Societal Actors for a Sustainable Future, provided the opportunity to test out the validity of the SiS Catalyst approach and to identify evidence for the arguments for change.

Phase 4: Keep Going - this final year focused on maximising the impact of the learning of SiS Catalyst through Policy Seminars, Conferences and What We Recommend Events with children in over 20 countries during this time which the Recommendations of SiS Catalyst were refined and the final Deliverables and Products were produced.

During the lifetime of the SiS Catalyst, the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation made a very substantial impact on the consortium as they recognised within that document an articulation of their own mutual learning and as a vehicle for steering the H2020 agenda.

The SiS Catalyst Deliverables collectively paint a picture, a vision for the future, which reinforces the direction that the European Commission is pursuing in Horizon 2020 and in particular with the aims of Responsible Research and Innovation. Together they record the SiS Catalyst mutual learning journey and evidence a movement from Science-in-Society to Science with and for Society with the specific focus on public engagement with children as societal actors in their own right.

During 2014, the final year, the focus of the consortium was clearly on sustainability, with the over-riding question being how could the consortium make the arguments for a change in such a way that they had a life of their own after the project finding finished. As a consequence the more practical aspects of the project were developed as tools; this process ran in parallel with other European funded developments, most notably the emphasis on RRI for example the RRI Tools project.

The structure of SiS Catalyst involved two core Work Packages WP4 ‘Practice’ and WP5 ‘Policy’ and three cross-cutting WPs: WP6 Listening to young people, WP7 Recognising the role of students and WP8 Building a dialogue with Key Players. Two further WPs encircled all activities WP9 Measuring the impact and WP10 considering the ethics of this type of work. WP1 was the Management work package.

The project had its Kick Off Meeting in Liverpool, February 2011 and a total of eight conferences during its funding lifetime: Amsterdam,NL June 2011, Ankara, Turkey, November 2011, Zagreb, Croatia, June 2012, Porto, Portugal, November 2012, Tartu, Estonia, April 2013, Lodz, Poland, 2013 Ghent, Belgium March 2014 and Vienna September 2014.

Four of these conferences were Policy Practice Interface (PPI) conferences and were linked to the the European Access Network (EAN) and the other four were Strategic Development and Embedding (SDE) conferences linked to the European Children’s University Network (EUCU.NET). In between these eight conferences bilateral and smaller group meetings were also frequently held - sometimes as stand alone events and others linked to other events etc. A young person conference ‘We are the Future’ in Bucharest, Rumania, April 2012 enabled young people from 20 countries to actively participate in the 2012 Ministerial Conference and Bologna Policy Forum. Additionally during 2014 twenty What We Recommend Workshops for children were held in different countries as well as Policy Seminars for key players in seven countries.

All the conferences were well attended and provided the opportunity for the SiS Catalyst consortium to develop ideas, identify, capture and disseminate their mutual learning. The final meeting of many of the consortium members, after the project funding had finished, was at the Children As Change Agents for the future of science and society book launch in the House of Lords, London in February 2015. Future legacy events are being planned linked to the book launch in 20 countries plus the further dissemination of the SiS Catalyst tools.


Project Results:
SiS Catalyst was a coordination and support action, not a research project and therefore it is slightly misleading to speak of ‘scientific and technical results’. Nevertheless, as one of the very first Mobilisation of Mutual Learning Action Plans this project has contributed both new knowledge on the concept as children as agents for change as well as to our understanding of the mobilisation of mutual learning process. Both of these strands of learning can directly inform European thinking. SiS Catalyst also provided an opportunity to reflect on the broadest ethical considerations of this learning and the impact on public engagement within science.


1.The Mutual Learning around the concept of Children as Agents of Change:

SiS Catalyst was an ambitious project but also very simple in its conception starting from the concept that as children are the future, we must involve them in the decisions of today. The project was about finding, refining and applying ways to do this. SiS Catalyst was also fundamentally about change and Europe’s ability to respond to the societal challenges that we collectively face. We are living in times which are rapidly evolving and the transformation of our world is being accelerated by the developing technology. Together we need to find solutions to the global challenges and at the heart of these solutions is the need for us to think differently.

The current priorities of economic growth, competitiveness and productivity are unsustainable. Our future survival is dependent on our ability to take shared responsibility by recognising that all our actions of today have an impact on the future. As the consciousness of this reality increases, then so does the acceptance of our collective responsibility. The acknowledgement of this starts on an individual level and grows progressively through the transpersonal collective consciousness of groups, organisations and eventually the whole of humanity.

This transformation will require a new relationship between science and society. An essential prerequisite for effective cooperation will be the recognition and ownership of a ‘shared agenda ’. This agenda is the survival of humanity. The process of societal transformation involves both mutual learning and the co-creation of knowledge. This will require the empowerment of all stakeholders involved, including children and young people, only then will there be an equal relationship between science with and for society.

Our successful evolution as a society requires us to embrace this process of social transformation by finding radical and fundamental approaches to the process of change. SiS Catalyst championed the concept that children are societal actors and have a right to play a greater role in the evolution of society, as it their future that we are currently co-creating. Finding ways of incorporating the perceptions of children and young people in the management of change will assist in the development of a sustainable future for ourselves.

Change occurs in small steps, interspersed by giant leaps, equally learning occurs in small steps, interspersed by ‘Aha’ moments. Children are born with a huge potential to learn, but what they learn depends on what we as the adults, around them, teach them. By incorporating the voices of children into the development of policies and practices, we are able to include a more authentic voice of humanity into these processes.

Whilst it might seem a long way from the world of the child to the world of Science-in-Society, or its successor Science with and for Society, the introduction of the Responsible Research and Innovation agenda actually points very clearly to a new way of making science part of society rather than a distant and distrusted entity. SiS Catalyst took this further by moving on from individuals pursuing unique agendas to a way of conceiving a long-term, emancipatory dialogue.

Within the project, we used the analogy of jointly climbing a mountain but starting from different locations. Working together on SiS Catalyst enabled us to see the bigger picture and how this is made up from a composite of our individual learning. From the perspective of the top of the mountain we saw the relationship between our initial position and our current thinking and we identified this as our mutual learning. We then attempted to capture and disseminate this.

This analogy of groups of people ascending a mountain peak from different sides helped us to understand how we were tackling a common challenge, but all starting from the basis of alternative viewpoints. Starting points are important, and when we originally began to work together our differences were very apparent. We came from different countries, from different types of organisations, were from a range of ages and all of us had our unique personal background. These individual starting points were as a consequence of our own personal histories, intertwined in a complex weave of language, culture, organisations and countries etc. However, through SiS Catalyst we had come together to climb the same mountain in a collective attempt to realise how children can be change agents for science and society.

In our proposal we had identified two drivers for change. Firstly the evolution of technology including the global connectivity and unprecedented access to knowledge and secondly the reality that children are the future, inheriting the world that we collectively leave them. We ambitiously had set ourselves the task of the seeking to identify how children can be catalysts for change in the long-term solutions to the grand challenges faced by society, their future.

We used the term Children's University’s type activities to describe the variety of informal learning activities delivered by higher education institutions, civil society organisations and museums etc. with children usually between the ages of 8 and 12 years. From around 2000, the numbers of these types of activities has been growing substantially, and have been supported at European, national and institutional levels.

We had identified two motivations that organisations like universities chose to work with children. Simply put these activities usually have one of two very distinct and different aims; either the promotion of STEM subjects (the science communication agenda) or as a way of targeting young people under-represented within higher education (the social inclusion agenda).

The vast majority of these Children's University’s type activities involve children and young people as the recipients of provision, it is very unusual for these activities to be seen as having a direct impact on the institutional development of the institutions involved. However our third starting point was that of young people as change agents, how could they be directly involved with the policy and practices of the organisations involved?

These were the three sides to the mountain that we chose to climb:

- The science communication agenda - promoting the uptake and interest in science subjects

- The social inclusion agenda - educational opportunities for underrepresented groups

- Young people as change agents - enabling institutional change.

When we reflected on our mutual learning we repeatedly used the expression ‘Our similarities are so much greater than our differences.’ And this concept is at the heart of the SiS Catalyst learning, the growing understanding that our similarities ARE so much greater than our differences. For shorthand, we called this ‘Global Thinking’. This shared recognition that all the differences within our systems, countries, organisations, subject areas etc. were manufactured by the specific culture, history and hegemony of these elements. All of our differences were ‘man-made’ but when we started thinking about our respective worlds through the eyes of children, we very quickly began to recognise our collective consciousness - the reality that we are all one - human beings sharing this planet.

We also began to see that our education systems, both formal and informal, takes our children on a learning journey which imposes these cultural and societal norms. But should this be the purpose of education? When children across the world, were asked to reflect on the purpose of education, through the twenty What We Recommend workshops, several common themes emerged, however the most common recommendation related specifically to the young people’s desire to see more equality and fair access to education.


1.1 The Three Messages of SiS Catalyst

We identified three key messages in our mutual SiS Catalyst learning:

Message 1: Children are societal actors

Message 2: We only have one agenda – the survival of humanity

Message 3: Not only must we change - WE CAN CHANGE!


Message 1: Children are societal actors

Within Europe there is a growing recognition that the grand societal challenges will have a better chance of being tackled if all societal actors are fully engaged in the co-construction of innovative solutions, products and services. However, whilst public engagement is becoming increasingly recognised as a fundamental key for societal development, children and young people are not recognised as a public in their own right.

The recognition of children as societal actors is the first implication of our deliberations. It is their future that we are creating now; therefore they must be recognised as stakeholders and co-creators of our shared future. We have a responsibility to find ways to include children in the development of both science and society.

We will not know what the perspectives of children are, unless we ask them. As adults it is arrogant of us to continue to make decisions about our collective future without considering what the recipients of that future think and how we can with them co-create this future.

In the words of children of Medellin, Colombia (We All Can Change the World Children’s Manifesto, April 2014):

“We are the ones that will live our future, that's why we don't want adults to take decisions without taking us into account.”


Message 2: We only have one agenda – the survival of humanity

How we are developing globally is currently unsustainable. We are putting the future of ALL human life in the balance. We have to find ways of developing our science with and for the future of the world. This means ALL of us - ALL scientists and ALL societies. This is our shared and collective agenda - all our individual agendas are tiny tributaries of this first and fundamental obligation.

The ultimate need of society is its own survival and this is what our current actions are putting into jeopardy. Children recognise this single agenda intuitively, whereas we as adults can find it so much more difficult the simplicity of this. Involvement of the perception of children within research and innovation policy and practice automatically focuses the attention on the children’s future as that is what we are collectively co-creating, enabling adults to recall the authenticity of thinking like a child.

In 2009, when the SiS Catalyst proposal was written, the expression Science in Society was being used, however by 2014 the phrase Science With and For Society has been adopted by the European Commission. This transition of thinking has been a fundamental aspect of the SiS Catalyst learning and is also directly linked to the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation. This concept requires that societal actors work together during the whole research and innovation process in order for research and innovation policy to be driven by the needs of society.

In SiS Catalyst we combined the three agendas; science communication, social inclusion and children as change agents and together they make an element of the Science With and For Society agenda. However we recognised that in order for science (scientists) to have a sustained two-way dialogue with society (children and young people) then the process must be one which empowers all stakeholders.

If we are going to engage with children as societal actors, then the processes involved must enable the young people to be empowered, to feel respected, to feel more confident in their own ability to make choices and decisions, in the short term but also in the future.


Message 3: Not only must we change - WE CAN CHANGE!

The changes are happening, and they are happening now! We have to embrace change rather than resist it. This is the paradigm shift needed; our ability to think differently, to think globally, to recognise our shared humanity and to lose our fear of change. Listening to children (and acting upon this) is the quickest way for us to think differently. Children intuitively think without judgement, with curiosity and fundamentally ethically and authentically.

The paradigm shift requires us to be open in our thinking and to remember ourselves what it is like to think like a child, free from the judgements that we have absorbed throughout our lifetime. To be curious and excited by the prospect of change but fundamentally thinking ethically and trusting our intuition as to what is right and what is wrong.


1.2 The Arguments for Change

The messages of SiS Catalyst gave us our arguments for change but we then had to think through how could we put the implications of SiS Catalyst into action. Looking at the world from the top of our mountain enabled us to think globally and to see clearly the bigger picture, but coming back down involved working out how can this be translated into our everyday actions. This was in many ways the hardest element of our learning because although we are part of global society, we live individually, in our own small corner of the world, within which we have our own set of individual responsibilities.

We are however, constantly making decisions and we often see these as day-to-day choices as small and mundane. However it is the accumulation of these individual decisions that combine together to form the totality of how we live our lives. Collectively these everyday individual choices join together to make our society and the world we live in. The implications of this are profound.

We all have our own sphere of influence, though we cannot see the impact of our actions beyond those with direct and immediate consequences. However everything that we do, however small, impacts on the world around us. The paradigm shift/the different way of thinking is to live one’s life based on the understanding that our small decisions matter, not just to ourselves but crucially to the world that we live in - the world that we are co-creating as a consequence of our individual actions and choices.

The key word is RESPONSIBILITY. The responsibility for addressing the societal challenges needs to be shared by all of us, including children and young people, as it is our collective future we are currently creating. Thinking globally and understanding that our actions have a direct impact on the future requires that we take a different approach to our everyday choices, responsibilities and actions.

We also focused on the implications of this thinking to higher education as we saw universities as the societal focal point for learning, teaching, research and public engagement. The question that SiS Catalyst raised - is what is the future role of higher education? As the process of where and how knowledge is being created is changing, universities, as the traditional spaces for knowledge creation are also facing a process of rapid evolution.

As technology develops exponentially and we are now able to operate in a virtual as well as a physical world, our challenge is to find ways of collectively prospering in both. We would propose that universities are best placed to be catalysts for sustainable change. However this will require new definitions of institutional success based on concepts of sustainability and well-being.

This learning is very much in line with the growing recognition that universities are currently going through a process of massive change requiring new ways of perceiving knowledge development as well as the transmission of that knowledge. Traditionally educational systems have taken interconnected branches of knowledge and turned them into linear disciplines of learning and teaching. Solving our global challenges will require transdisciplinary solutions which include diverse perspectives and knowledge sources.

We propose that Children’s Universities type activities provide an opportunity to learn from children, particularly those from communities under-represented within higher education and have the potential to be important vehicles for institutional change. They are exciting, innovative and can enable the voices and opinions of children to be systematically included in the development of research as well as policy and practice. This proposal provides the opportunity to pool the resources of universities by incorporating the values of children in the co-creation of knowledge. This is the knowledge that we need for the future, our children’s future.

Whilst recognising the importance of the little things, the details of life, we also saw that it is also necessary to regularly go back up the mountain and to remember that overview, the bigger purpose, the global thinking. Our learning and actions occurs on an individual level, within the context of where we live and work. Finding the time and making the opportunities to reflect with others from a different perspective enable us to individually see the world and our activities in a global context. We need to make the time for reflection not just for ourselves but for our shared world.


1.3 The Recommendations of SiS Catalyst

These Recommendations were developed by the whole consortium and took the form of a Strategic Paper: Children as Societal Actors for a Sustainable Future. This was was a distillation of the first three years of the SiS Catalyst learning and was used during 2014 to provoke responses and action around the world through Policy Seminars, Conferences and What We Recommend Events with children in over 20 countries.

Children have rights and adults need to engage with them in order to include their voices and opinions in decisions about both the present and the future.

Recommendation 1: Schools and teachers must ensure that all curriculum must goes through a mandatory process of engagement and consultation with children and young people before it is delivered in the classroom.

Genuinely listening to children includes empowering children's autonomy in order that they can make the most informed choices about their present reality and their future.

Recommendation 2: Teachers and those working directly with children must be supported to engage with young people in a way that empowers them and if necessary receive appropriate training and resources.

The evolving technology, global connectivity and unprecedented access to knowledge will require new educational systems. Children need to be actively involved in the development of these.

Recommendation 3: What We Recommend type consultation events should form a mandatory element of public policy design processes.

Unlocking the full potential of all children requires identifying locally defined minorities: recognising that inequalities exist and are deeply rooted within society and scientific communities, and by individuals and organisations taking responsibility for change.

Recommendation 4: The public funding of learning and teaching providers should be directly linked to the identification of the composition of the social background of student populations, and the active commitment of institutions to the promotion of greater equity in the composition of these populations.

In order for science education to be a means to make change happen the curiosity, interest and desire of children needs to be recognised from the earliest age, and cherished through the process of their learning.

Recommendation 5: Governments need to make long term, ring-fenced investment in both formal, and particularly informal learning provision which fosters the self-belief and resilience required to enable young people to take ownership of their own learning journey.

Engaging with children provides an opportunity to hear authentic voices and opinions which are less corrupted by society and freer from adult fears. However whilst the individual child should be acknowledged and given status, they cannot be seen to represent all children.

Recommendation 6: Governments and public institutions must develop ‘children as change agents’ strategies which enable an emancipatory dialogue between young people as voices of the future and policy makers as the decision makers of today.

Key players have the responsibility of ensuring that they include the voices and opinions of children within their own sphere of influence, locally, nationally and beyond.

Recommendation 7: Networks should be established and supported at both national/international levels to enable key players to develop their capacity to understand their sphere of influence and their potential to enhance the role that children play as change agents in 21st century society.


1.4 The Deliverables of SiS Catalyst

Within SIS Catalyst there were two main themes; firstly the evolution of practice and secondly the development of policy. The project and its Deliverables developed around these two themes focusing on the points where the practice and the policies interface with the other themes of SiS Catalyst - children, students, key players, data and ethics.

All the Deliverables achieved their goals as identified within the DOW and collectively paint a picture, a vision for the future, which reinforces the direction that the European Commission is pursuing in Horizon 2020 and in particular with the aims of Responsible Research and Innovation. Together these Deliverables record the SiS Catalyst mutual learning journey and evidence a movement from Science-in-Society to Science with and for Society with the specific focus on public engagement with children as societal actors in their own right.

The Deliverables are clustered around three distinct purposes.

A group of Deliverables reported on activities undertaken and provide evidence that activities were delivered etc.

A group reflected on the processes involved with the delivery of the project and specifically how the mobilisation of mutual learning occurred within the consortium.

The third group of Deliverable explore the concept of children as change agents for science and society from the perspectives of the different stakeholders with the aim of providing the ‘arguments for change’ for sustaining the legacy of the work.

During the project’s lifetime, the consortium reflected on the development of Deliverables within the context of an MMLAP. The expression ‘Deliverables with Impact’ was used by the consortium to try and differentiate between a Deliverable which was reported to the EC as identified within the DOW and a Deliverable which was a Product in its own right with a legacy and possibly longer-term impact.


1.5 The Products of SiS Catalyst

As a consequence as well as the 22 Deliverables produced in accordance of the DOW another group of twelve ‘Products’ where developed. These take the form of RRI Tools and are encapsulated within the book 'Children as Change Agents for the future of Science and Society' which distils the learning of SiS Catalyst and lays out a roadmap for the progression of the 'children as change agents' movement. This is a forward looking book which outlines the principles that need to be followed if we are to place children at the centre of education in the early 21st century and is targeted at practitioners, institutions and policymakers. http://www.siscatalyst.eu/book 

The following twelve tools are products of SiS Catalyst and will be disseminated after the lifetime of the project through a variety of mechanisms including other EC funded initiatives:

How to listen to and empower children Toolkit: Listening to, and empowering young people is a duty when developing science for and with young people. However it is also an opportunity. We produced a guide targeted in particular at three categories of professionals who are ‘the change makers’ on the day to day level.

The Diversity and Inclusion Map: The Diversity & Inclusion map is a self-assessment tool for organisations and practitioners who are involved in science engagement programmes with children. It aims to assist organisations in refining and improving the essential aspects of their work.

The SiS Declarations Booklet: Essential to advocating for change is developing techniques to distill the views of the community or group into succinct messages for policymakers that include clear messages of what needs to be done, and how, with realistic, achievable ways of realising change. The SiS catalyst approach was to develop a series of ‘declarations’ via different consultative techniques, which we refined and linked to four conferences. The declarations were intended to support and be one element within a “pan-European mutual agreement process” and a vehicle to foster a common understanding of children as partners in the development of policies at the European Level.

Crossing science in society and social inclusion agendas: Engaging the academic community: The SiS Catalyst project from the outset ensured that the academic community was part of the change ecosystem. The project produced a series of academic papers and a collection of these will be published in 2015. ‘Listening and Empowering: Crossing the social inclusion and the science in society agenda in science communication activities involving children and young people’, confronts some of the assumptions embedded in the relationship that children have with science and those who communicate it. It argues that while children are one of the main target groups for the communication of science, they are positioned as recipients of knowledge excluded from the dialogic approach that aims to ensure that scientists listen and have a dialogue with the public, or excluded altogether from science by their economic or social backgrounds. It brings together examples of how to confront this exclusion by providing spaces where dialogue with children can be developed, and how these spaces can be used to open up the potential for institutional changes.

SiS E-Learning Courses: Four E-learning courses on topics aimed to address the key areas and audience for the SiS Catalyst project. The aim was also to reach the wider audience within the education community.
Capacity building
Working Ethically
Developing Creative Websites for Children
How to listen to and empower children toolkit

Peer Mentoring Booklet: Harnessing the power of the networks is what will take the children as change agency movement forward beyond the SiS Catalyst project. We have used our own Mentoring Associates programme as a case study to inform guidelines for organisations hoping to facilitate peer mentoring in their own context.

Engaging students: Student engagement is a vital part of the change agency ecosystem. When students become involved in science communication projects it is a win-win situation, where all participants involved gain from the experience. We have compiled a set of guidelines for internship hosts and ‘What is Science?’ a self-contained workshop project, designed to be easily set up by any institution or organisation that works with students.

The ‘What We Recommend’ workshops: The What We Recommend workshops enabled the young people to consider and learn about their own decision-making. Young people were able to gain a greater understanding regarding their choice of options, and to develop a deeper comprehension about choices that they are making in their own lives both now and in the future. This guidebook was created to encourage and allow others to host their own events.

The AHA Album: The ‘AHA Album’ is an eye-catching booklet suitable for children aged 7-13 years. It aims to capture those ‘Aha’ moments when children realise change in both what they understand and what they know. They are also able to describe the actors, institutions or environments that helped create these moments through their learning journey.

Change in Action – the SiS Catalyst Case Studies: The core of the SiS Catalyst project was the different ‘case studies’ of children as change agency in action. These eight projects acted as pilot studies of how to take work with children in different and contrasting ways. There is a very powerful message emerging from the core of the Catalyst project: If you create space in which children as change agency organisations can innovate and the support to help them do so, then they can change what they do, how they do it and who benefits.

Working Ethically: At both the philosophical and practical level children as change agency looks to embed an ethical radar into the work. The question of the purposes of education and the very society that we wish to build through it are ethical ones. Is it right to try and prepare children for a society that is unsustainable and a future that they have to inhabit but cannot shape? Attempting to place children as societal actors rather than societal subjects, is itself an ethical decision which carries with it a vision of the good or just society. Working ethically is not just an issue of reflection, it can permeate throughout the day to day decisions of those working with young people. The SiS Catalyst project developed two brief guides and an e-learning course to assist in this endeavour. They are suitably generic to apply across contexts.

Convincing Policy Makers: The children as change agents agenda is an unashamedly ambitious one. It requires fundamental change, not the tinkering around at the edges that characterises much of what passes for educational reform. But to achieve this change takes a whole series of smaller steps. There is no big bang solution. The SiS Catalyst policy seminar series was an attempt to develop a model that could move us along the road of change. The aim was to bring policy makers together with a range of other stakeholders to develop a shared agenda. The thread running through the ecosystem that SiS Catalyst laid the foundations for was that impact can only be achieved collectively and this requires a shared agenda to work from. The policy seminars were an explicit attempt to build this agenda at the strategic level.

These Products are all freely available and downloadable from the SuS Catalyst website. This website will be maintained by the FOI for the foreseeable future.


2. Reflections and Learning on the MMLAP Process

SiS Catalyst was one of the very first Mobilisation and Mutual Learning (MMLAP) Action Plans and this was a huge learning curve for all involved throughout the four years. A major part of this learning was the need to find a way of working which would identify and capture the mutual learning of the project. The vast majority of consortium members had been involved with one or several European projects, however this was the first MMLAP that anyone had been involved in, and this did require a new way of thinking and well as working.

The Principal Investigator (PI) required the consortium to adopt a flexible and open ended approach to the work in order to promote reflection and genuine discussion. This was a challenge to many of the participants who had not worked in this way before. The External Evaluator commented in his report ‘While this element (flexible and open ended approach) was sometimes perceived by some participants as a lack of structure and clarity in the process, the majority agreed that benefits largely exceeded drawbacks.’

This decision to focus on the purpose of an MMLAP was made consciously by the PI as can be seen from the following extract from the first Interim Report - written June 2012: ‘The consortium is strong, with a growing depth of understanding of both the ethos of SiS Catalyst and the purpose of a MMLAP Action Plan. It should be recognised that SiS Catalyst is one of the very first MMLAP Action Plans and as a consequence it has not always been straightforward to differentiate between the delivery of a Framework 7 funded initiative of a more traditional nature, and the clarification and capturing of mutual learning across the partnership required in a MMLAP. One of the roles of the Principal Investigator has been to keep the attention and focus of the whole consortium to the nature of SiS Catalyst as an MMLAP Action Plan.’

Some consortium members were very anxious about the relationship with the European Commission, particularly in the earlier days as they found it difficult to envisage how ‘mutual learning’ could take the form of acceptable outcomes. This fear had to be addressed as it could have restricted thinking within the partnership. The PI repeatedly brought the focus of the consortium back to the concept of ‘mutual learning’ as a project outcome. She also discussed this with senior staff within the Commission who were supportive of her approach. Involvement with other MMLAPs in the latter years of the project, reinforced the approach of the SiS Catalyst consortium, which could be perceive as brave or high risk by participants of other EC funded projects.

This challenging way of working was responded to positively and after 18 months of funding, the Zagreb conference in June 2012 was a clear turning point for the consortium. It must be acknowledged that the SiS Catalyst journey was not always easy. However after time a very solid consortium emerged that had the maturity to argue, to listen, reflect and to learn from each other. All the participants found SiS Catalyst a very different kind of project, which it was - a mobilisation of mutual learning action plan! Keeping that focus throughout the four years was a crucial element of its success. The agreed direction for mutual learning in the first two years by the consortium was seen as the need to make convincing arguments for change. During the later two years these were converted into Deliverables and Products for dissemination.

At the end of two years the attention of the consortium became increasingly focused on what would the SIS Catalyst legacy look like. It had taken two years to co-create a shared understanding of what we meant by children is change agents for science and society across this diverse and large consortium. It had also taken that length of time for the consortium to understand and embed the concept of mobilisation of mutual learning.

The publication of Responsible Research and Innovation: Europe’s ability to respond to societal challenges - made a very substantial impact on the consortium. Its resonances with the thinking of SiS Catalyst was recognised early on as an articulation of our own mutual learning and it was seen as a potential vehicle for steering the H2020 agenda. The Strategic Paper, “Children as societal actors for a sustainable future” (Deliverable 3.1) used the concepts within RRI as its basis and then enveloped these with the particular focus of children as agents of change. The Łódź conference in 2013 endorsed the Strategic Paper as an agreed approached to the ‘arguments of change’. During the final year 2014, this document was used as a vehicle for discussion particularly within the Policy Seminars and the What We Recommend Events.

Del 8.2 summed up this relationship between the learning of SiS Catalyst and the overall RRI concept: SiS Catalyst, to some extent, existed ahead of its time, in that it anticipated the emergence of an RRI ecosystem and an associated debate about the rights and roles of children and young people, not explicitly set out in RRI documents but nevertheless implicit in the overall idea. The concept of a dialogical society depends on literacy in all its forms, and especially, for our purposes, on scientific literacy, as heavily encouraged by EU calls in FP6 and FP7. Dialogue, as suggested earlier in this document, implies inclusivity and recognition of the rights of all actors to have a voice. Freire, Habermas and numerous feminist writers, from Virginia Wolff to Sheryl Sandberg (2013) have all, in diverse ways, promoted this vision. SiS-Catalyst has taken an active role in promoting it.

Th development of SiS Catalyst as an MMLAP was greatly assisted by its work package structure. The project had two main drivers ‘policy’ and ‘practice’ and the three crosscutting themes of children, students and key players. These were wrapped around by measuring impact and ethics. This structure worked very well indeed. Within these individual work packages consensus grew but it became increasingly recognised that the place with the greatest potential for learning was actually at the intersections between WPs.

SiS Catalyst benefited from a lot from this cross pollination between WPs. However this only occurred in the context of a strong mutually trusting consortium, after the individual WP teams had gained confidence in the details of their own work and when there was a clear shared task to be undertaken by the two WPs. Devising clear tasks which involve WPs working directly together accelerates cohesion within a consortium as well as maximising in a very positive way the different perspectives from a variety of stakeholders.

The consortium continued to be strong and as the time progressed the understanding between individuals, organisations and working groups deepened into rich and creative relationships. One of the legacies of SIS Catalyst will be long-term professional relationships between organisations that had not encountered each other before. The initial uncertainty as to the exact purpose of a MMLAP Action Plan ripened into a real depth and understanding of the need to identify, capture and disseminate mutual learning across the partnership and beyond. This was been particularly enhanced during this period by the development of the Mentoring Associates programme. This opportunity, has not only brought more people into the consortium, it has also brought an opportunity to see the work in a wider global context.

Over a two-year period the 36 Mentoring Associate pairs hosted reciprocal visits, intensive exchanges of information, as well as meeting at the SiS Catalyst conferences. The Mentoring Associates (who were provided only with travel and accommodation financial support) were charged to learn from each other. They were asked to identify this learning, to capture it and to share with each other and then to report back to the consortium on their mutual learning.

The Mentoring Associate programme took the partners into a much more profound learning opportunity than networking at a conference. Hosting a visit and participating in a visit provided the time for individual and shared reflection, which enabled participants to look at their own work through new eyes. This depth of learning was a significant feature of the programme.

The mobilisation of this mutual learning occurred at three different levels; at the individual level, the institutional level and within the SiS Catalyst consortium. This learning was captured within reports etc. but it must be recognised that this is only the tip of the iceberg of the amount of learning which actually occurred. In many cases the learning and the transformation was hard to be named while in the process, but evident afterwards. However, the dialogue between partners and associates was a very fundamental aspect of this learning which moved the individuals and the organisations forward in terms of their thinking.

The key message that the Mentoring Associates delivered was that; however diverse organisations were in terms of size, structure, academic disciplines, countries etc. the similarities were significantly greater than the differences.

The role of the Advisers was also very useful within the consortium as another vehicle for contributing different perspectives and insights. The Advisers were all practitioners from a variety of backgrounds across the world, chosen to contribute a specific perspective to the project. They individually developed specific roles and provided support, both at the times of meetings and conferences, and in between these. Sometimes this involved working on specific tasks within WPs and sometimes in supporting individual partners as well as working groups.

The presence of children and young people within SiS Catalyst was also a consistent element of the conferences as well as the delivery of activities. For example the "We are the Future Symposium" (Bucharest, April 2012) was a very successful event with 20 young people from 13 different nations all over the world, involved in a 4 days programme in Bucharest, which included participation on location of the EHEA Ministerial Conference and 3rd Bologna Policy Forum. The Practical Guide Prezi was launched by a group of Roma children (in four languages) at the Zagreb conference in June 2012.

The European Students Union (ESU) was a partner within the SiS Catalyst consortium and this ensured that all activities including meetings and conferences etc. had the full participation of students. Their contribution was substantial and given the nature of ESU as the network of National Student Unions, their contribution was particularly insightful on the development of policy.

As the consortium worked together there was an increasing recognition that SiS Catalyst had an unusual culture or ethos of working. Comments like ‘Working on SiS is different from any other EC project I have been involved in’ were frequently made. It is difficult to identify what made the working relationship different but the concept of ‘mutual trust’ and ‘being open’ in many ways encapsulate the working relationships that were formed within the consortium.


2.1 Factors identified by SiS Catalyst as contributing to the successful learning as an MMLAP:

The four Phased structure of the work plan worked well and provided the very important first Phase entitled Think Big which gave the consortium time to consolidate and recognise their shared vision before starting on the second Phase Start Small.

The structure of the Work Packages provided the the opportunity for different stakeholders to work together and also provided shared tasks between WPs.

Well attended conferences and meetings which occurred over several days. These were structured in such a way as to ensure that all members of the consortium were asked to, and expected to, fully contribute.

An environment of openness to discussion, constructive criticism, different viewpoints and perspectives and the time to reflect on these. This required the establishing and maintaining of mutual trust within the consortium.

Interactive External Evaluators for example the Formative Evaluation provided a direct route for feedback identifying a very strong shared ethos and collective purpose which was not always translate into clearly defined tasks. This helped the consortium clarify its work.

External Advisers who contributed their wealth of global experience as well as providing very important listeners and advisers. They also contributed directly to the learning of SiS Catalyst through developing their thinking around the implications of the SiS Catalyst learning to a variety of wider communities.

The PI’s consistent focus on the MMLAP process - ‘Identify the learning’, ‘Capture the learning’ and ‘Disseminate the learning’.

The Mentoring Associates Programme as a vehicle for Mutual learning by providing the opportunity to test out the validity of the SiS Catalyst approach and to identify evidence for the ‘arguments for change’.


3 Ethical Considerations of the SiS Catalyst learning

SiS Catalyst underwent an Ethics Review during the application process. During which the assessor commented:

It proves a positive approach towards ethical concerns and their dissemination both in the scientific community and to the wider public. This becomes a potential guarantee to widespread the message of ethical matters’ relevance in science and in collaboration with a wider audience.

The project contributes to changing the Science and Society relationship, and focuses on developing a context that can make young children the future actors of such change.

These comments were for-sighted as ethics played a major role within SiS Catalyst. It constituted a Work Package in their own right, with very useful Deliverables in the form of an E-learning course and Guidelines for working both with students and young people. Ethics was also an integral part of all the reflections and consequential learning by the consortium.

SiS Catalyst explored the concept of children as agents of change. This required listening and empowering children and young people through a variety of Children’s Universities type activities. This process was obviously considered in terms of ethics as a way of working, however it also involved spending time with, and listening too, children and young people.

When given the opportunity to reflect on policy and practice, the young people were very ethical in their thinking and recommendations.

For example the What We Recommend Workshops undertaken in 20 countries, resulted in remarkably similar proposals with three main themes within the children’s recommendations. The first theme is very clearly ethical in that it directly relates to equity within education. However the other two themes which focus around a desire for a safe school environment and a curriculum that is meaningful to them, can also be seen as ethical. The young people are asking for an education which support and prepares them for an uncertain future.

The first theme of the What We Recommend Workshops was around equality within education. Many of the groups of children specifically referred to the inequality between public and private education and there were many references to the need for education to be free, accessible and well-resourced for all children and young people.

Youth & Children’s University of Greece, Athens, Greece: We want free education and a good school.

Manthan Educational Programme Society, Ahmedabad, India: Make the educational level of Governmental and private schools equal.

In the second theme, the young people wanted to learn in a safer environment and to have a better relationship with their teachers. They frequently recommended that the relationship with teachers would be better if it was more individual and supported their personal learning needs.

Junior Academy, ECHO, Amsterdam, Netherlands: Teachers should listened more carefully to students.

Malopolski University for Children, Chrzanów, Poland: We want individual approach to each student.

The third theme was around the relevance of the curriculum, with the young people recommending that learning was more practical, experiential and better prepared them for the world after school. They also recommended that the opportunities to learn inside the school were linked more to the world outside of the school environment.

Children's University of MSA University October University, Egypt: Practical learning is not used enough: students should be able to use materials and do hands on activities.

Coçukistanbul, Istanbul, Turkey: Education should not be confined to just being within school buildings.


The words and reflections of the young people reinforced the learning of SiS Catalyst and by their presence in both the activities and the reflections of the consortium, children and young people pushed us to be ethical in our thinking.

We had originally called WP 6 Listening to Children but by the end of the first year we call this work package Listening and Empowering Children. In many ways this sums up the ethical considerations of SiS Catalyst as it is not about just listening to children, it is about empowering them through the process.

By regarding young people as societal actors we are recognising them as a ‘public’ in their own right. However if we are to do this ethically then the empowerment of them as a ‘public’ is also a necessary prerequisite. It is not a big step to recognise that this needs to be taken more generally into the larger world of public engagement.

The implications of the is significant. There is much talk on the prioritisation of public engagement and the the need for science to be with and for society, however if we are to make a real commitment to public engagement then this will require more than just listening to the public. The final message of SiS Catalyst is that genuine public engagement require a process which actually empowers the public through its delivery.

Potential Impact:
The Dinosaur’s tail of SiS Catalyst

In a 2012 Brussels workshop for the coordinators of MMLAP projects, the head-body-tail model of project design emerged as a possible new analogy for increasing public engagement and overall project effectiveness (Healy, 2012).

The head represents the planning phase of projects, with the crucial element that the shape of the project itself should be formed as a result of consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders and public(s) during this phase.

The body is the project itself, which should also include ongoing consultation with a group of stakeholders empowered to request changes as necessary.

Finally, the tail represents the need for post project dissemination over an extended period, however a major defect in the current system is that there is no provision for direct funding of long-term dissemination activity.

This model of the dinosaur has been used in a number of subsequent meetings, and the SiS Catalyst participants in Ghent were amongst the first to take part in ‘making the dinosaur’, a simple icebreaker activity to demonstrate the principle and its effects. This gave the consortium the words for the legacy of SiS Catalyst - the consortium talked about our dinosaur’s tail - to describe their post funding legacy.


The SiS Catalyst dinosaur’s tail can be seen within three overlapping areas

1. Consciousness raising through clear short messages

2. Influence on networks and forthcoming projects

3. SiS Catalyst Deliverables and Products


1. Consciousness raising through clear short messages

Within SiS Catalyst there was a lot of discussion about the purpose of dissemination and what exactly was meant by impact. We knew the dinosaur tail needed to be developed within the body of the project and potential impact needed to extend well after the funding ceased, but how we were to manifest this was a point for much debate. Through these deliberations we began to recognise that the impact of SiS Catalyst would be directly linked to the clarity, simplicity and applicability of its messages.

The social inclusion agenda was always at the heart of SiS Catalyst thinking. The consortium which was made up of a mixture of social inclusion practitioners and science communicators amongst others, provided the opportunity to explore how the two agendas social inclusion/STEM could be combined. Engaging with children and their perspective for the future stripped both agendas to their core with the consequence that we recognised our shared agenda.

Looking around the world we began to align ourselves with the global shared agenda and we started to use the expression ‘paradigm shift.’ This was clearly expressed by Irina Bokova Director-General of UNESCO in the UNESCO Roadmap for Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (November 2014).

“Today’s interconnected global challenges demand responses that are rooted in the spirit of our collective humanity. I believe that the risks and opportunities we face call for a paradigm shift that can only be embedded in our societies through education and learning. “

Thomas Kuhn in 1962 introduced in his book the ‘Structure of Scientific Revolution’ the concept of a paradigm shift - he described it as ‘when one conceptual worldview is replaced by another.’ This can be seen as a change from one way of thinking to another way of thinking, and as such is a kind of revolution or transformation. However, it does not just happen - it is driven by agents of change. In the 15th century the printing press was such an agent of change and for us in the 21st-century technology and the Internet are clearly forceful agents of change.

The SiS Catalyst funding had enabled us to play a small part by being catalysts for change within the paradigm shift our society so urgently requires. The global challenges we face are rooted in our collective humanity and will be resolved through our collective actions. We were fortunate in that the concept that children as societal actors is a simple one. To recognise young people as stakeholders in a shared future is not difficult, and once this idea is genuinely absorbed and acted upon, the paradigm shift has started.

Kuhn states that "awareness is prerequisite to all acceptable changes of theory” and the concept of consciousness raising became the key driver of the development for the SiS Catalyst legacy. If we were to have a long-term impact then this would require us to find ways to raise awareness/consciousness of the messages we wished to promote.

The three key messages of SiS Catalyst are simple. Firstly, children need to be recognised as societal actors and as a ‘public’ in their own right. Secondly, we only have one agenda – the survival of humanity and thirdly not only must we change - we can change.

How these messages can be executed beyond the lifetime of the project funding will be dependent on the actions of others. However the likelihood of ideas being absorbed and embedded within policy and practice are enhanced if they are directly linked to priorities and concepts that are already being encouraged. Within the European context this was relatively straightforward for us as we had already made an alignment with the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation. Time will tell if the messages of SiS Catalyst were opportune or ahead of their time.

However, it is possible to see the concept of children as societal actors having its own lifetime well after SiS Catalyst has been forgotten. If it can be aligned with the growing momentum and need for public engagement within the science communities, then it has a strong potential to underpin long term, sustainable change.

The broadening of public engagement to include children as a public in their own right is actually not that difficult. Clear endorsement by the European Commission, National and local policymakers would obviously accelerate this process. What SiS Catalyst has provided is a rationale for this. It has also started the process of providing ethically developed tools to enable this to occur. Directly linking these and their incorporation with other initiatives like the RRI tools project makes this a genuine longer-term possibility.


2. Influence on networks and forthcoming projects

SiS Catalyst was an MMLAP with the aim of identifying, capturing and disseminating mutual learning, it was not asked to produce research outcomes whose influence could be monitored in terms of impact. However, telling the SiS Catalyst story and making that story of interest and relevant is the most important aspect of its sustainability.

The problem with storytelling as a means of establishing children as change agents is that, until recently, there have been few opportunities for children and young people to tell their stories in adult-dominated arenas. Successful storytelling requires that the storyteller is not just establishing her identity through narrative, but is enabled to tell stories by virtue of her subject position, a circular process with no obvious way in from outside the circle. If nothing else, the voices of young people need to be heard within future projects.

The story of SiS Catalyst has provided the rationale, words and tools which establish that children can be agents of change within the development of policy and practice. This story in itself derives a lot of its strength from the narratives of its actors but it this process has started an emancipatory dialogue. The work of Freire and others in popular movements, the work of feminist writers such as Sandra Harding and Evelyn Fox Keller and that of Peter Singer in animal rights have all shown that creating emancipatory dialogue is a process which cannot be permanently rolled back.

The dialogue set in motion by SiS Catalyst provides an alternative standpoint, not because it proceeds from a set of facts about children’s role as change agents, but because it creates a new collective consciousness with what Sandra Harding (1991) calls ‘strong objectivity’. In other words, as an outsider group within the dominant discourse of Science-in-Society, such a group can challenge norms on the basis of a position, which is, in its early stages, hypothetical. The challenge is to convert this outsider position, and the hypothesis of a strong version of the fundamental rights of the child, into a more soundly based position with a theoretical basis and ways to take it forward.

SiS Catalyst has introduced a different way of thinking about science education in relation to children. Crucially, the project, through its dialogue, has come to the view that scientific thinking, and science in general, are things to which children and young people have a right, rather than being things to which they may, or may not, be admitted at a later stage. This was not the original premise, but it has emerged from the process of thinking through the role of children as key players or change agents.

SiS Catalyst because of its role as an MMLAP has started a new dialogue, which brings together key players in unusual combinations, rather than operating in a pre-planned landscape with pre- determined results. To establish and sustain this kind of context for dialogue and communication within the Science-in-Society ecosystem will not be an easy task. There are many Science-in-Society actors and they have diverse interests and mentalities, mindsets, histories and cultures. SiS Catalyst will not succeed in uniting these actors behind a single goal, but it will succeed in changing the water in which they swim. This means that the structures of EU funding, and the wider relationships of science and society need to change.

SiS Catalyst involved several European networks with both international and national linkages. Many of the players involved are very active both in these networks and project development and delivery. It is possible to see the influence of the SiS Catalyst mutual learning in the shaping of these. The European Children’s University network EUCU.net has been identified by the consortium as the natural home for interested individuals and organisations, as well as future project development.

SiS Catalyst was a Community of Practice, but in order to sustain itself after the end of the official funding period, it needs to introduce ideas into the public domain, as well as continuing the dialogue between its participants, in their future roles, and wider society as it evolves and transforms itself.

Success in many ways breeds success. The recognition of SiS Catalyst as a successful project will hopefully encourage others to take on board the key messages and recommendations within their own work/project proposals etc. The story of SiS Catalyst - a ‘beautiful project’ is part of its legacy. It changed the lives of all those involved and the principal investigator and other members of the consortium will continue to tell its story globally as part of their own ongoing activities.


3. SiS Catalyst Deliverables and Products

Within the DOW two main dissemination Deliverables had been conceived - the four Declarations WP5 and the Strategic Paper WP3. The four annual Declarations linked to the Strategic Development and Embedding (SDE) conferences were produced by WP 5 and the process of their production by the consortium was definitely vehicle for the developments of the arguments for change. However despite considerable effort being expended on their dissemination, we were not able to see them having huge impact in terms of consciousness raising. Interestingly at the end of the project, their collection as a booklet which explores the concept of Children’s University type activities has provided a very useful document for practitioners to engage with senior managers within their own institutions.

The other vehicle for dissemination as identified within the DOW was the WP 3 deliverable the Strategic Paper: Children as Societal Actors for a Sustainable Future. This took the form of a short and readable one page document accompanied by seven recommendations. This paper was seen as a distillation of the first three years of the SiS Catalyst learning and was used during 2014 to provoke responses and action around the world through Policy Seminars, Conferences and What We Recommend Events with children in over 20 countries.

The most important element of this paper was that it was short, easy to read and comprehend and made the argument that children should be recognised as societal actors, a ‘public’ in their own right. It became very clear quite early that this message had a lot of resonance with both developing European and national policies. In all the consultation in policy seminars, conferences and discussions I cannot recall any one person actually disagreeing with the concept. Its simplicity, clarity and ethical basis is difficult to argue with. How this could be translated into action was not so straightforward but the focus on the responsibility of the individual for their own action, in their own sphere of influence was widely understood.
In addition to the 22 Deliverables of SiS Catalyst produced in accordance of the DOW another group of twelve ‘Products’ where developed. These take the form of RRI Tools and are encapsulated within the book 'Children as Change Agents for the future of Science and Society' which distils the learning of SiS Catalyst and lays out a roadmap for the progression of the 'children as change agents' movement. This is a forward looking book which outlines the principles that need to be followed if we are to place children at the centre of education in the early 21st century and is targeted at practitioners, institutions and policymakers. http://www.siscatalyst.eu/book 

These products are all freely available on the SiS Catalyst webpages for downloading and the website and associated links will be maintained for the foreseeable future by the FOI (Faculty of Informatics, University of Zagreb)

SiS E-Learning Courses: Four e-learning courses have been produced on topics aimed to address the key areas and audience for the SiS Catalyst project. The aim was also to reach the wider audience within the education community.
Capacity building
Working Ethically
Developing Creative Websites for Children
How to listen to and empower children toolkit


Peer Mentoring: Harnessing the power of the networks is what will take the children as change agency movement forward beyond the SiS Catalyst project. We have used our own Mentoring Associates programme as a case study to inform guidelines for organisations hoping to facilitate peer mentoring in their own context. 
The Diversity and Inclusion Map: The Diversity & Inclusion map is a self-assessment tool for organisations and practitioners who are involved in science engagement programmes with children. It aims to assist organisations in refining and improving the essential aspects of their work.

How to listen to and empower children: Listening to, and empowering young people is a duty when developing science for and with young people. However it is also an opportunity. We produced a guide targeted in particular at three categories of professionals who are ‘the change makers’ on the day to day level.

Engaging students: Student engagement is a vital part of the change agency ecosystem. When students become involved in science communication projects it is a win-win situation, where all participants involved gain from the experience. We have compiled a set of guidelines for internship hosts and ‘What is Science?’ a self-contained workshop project, designed to be easily set up by any institution or organisation that works with students.

The ‘What We Recommend’ workshops: The What We Recommend workshops enabled the young people to consider and learn about their own decision-making. Young people were able to gain a greater understanding regarding their choice of options, and to develop a deeper comprehension about choices that they are making in their own lives both now and in the future. This guidebook was created to encourage and allow others to host their own events.

The AHA Album: The ‘AHA Album’ is an eye-catching booklet suitable for children aged 7-3 years. It aims to capture those ‘Aha’ moments when children realise change in both what they understand and what they know. They are also able to describe the actors, institutions or environments that helped create these moments through their learning journey.

Change in Action – the SiS Catalyst Case Studies: The core of the SiS Catalyst project was the different ‘case studies’ of children as change agency in action. These eight projects acted as pilot studies of how to take work with children in different and contrasting ways. There is a very powerful message emerging from the core of the Catalyst project: If you create space in which children as change agency organisations can innovate and the support to help them do so, then they can change what they do, how they do it and who benefits.

Working Ethically: At both the philosophical and practical level children as change agency looks to embed an ethical radar into the work. The question of the purposes of education and the very society that we wish to build through it are ethical ones. Is it right to try and prepare children for a society that is unsustainable and a future that they have to inhabit but cannot shape? Attempting to place children as societal actors rather than societal subjects, is itself an ethical decision which carries with it a vision of the good or just society. Working ethically is not just an issue of reflection, it can permeate throughout the day to day decisions of those working with young people. The SiS Catalyst project developed two brief guides and an e-learning course to assist in this endeavour. They are suitably generic to apply across contexts.

The SiS Declarations Booklet: Essential to advocating for change is developing techniques to distill the views of the community or group into succinct messages for policymakers that include clear messages of what needs to be done, and how, with realistic, achievable ways of realising change. The SiS catalyst approach was to develop a series of ‘declarations’ via different consultative techniques, which we refined and linked to four conferences. The declarations were intended to support and be one element within a “pan-European mutual agreement process” and a vehicle to foster a common understanding of children as partners in the development of policies at the European Level.

Crossing science in society and social inclusion agendas: Engaging the academic community: The SiS Catalyst project from the outset ensured that the academic community was part of the change ecosystem. The project produced a series of academic papers and a collection of these will be published in 2015. ‘Listening and Empowering: Crossing the social inclusion and the science in society agenda in science communication activities involving children and young people’, confronts some of the assumptions embedded in the relationship that children have with science and those who communicate it. It argues that while children are one of the main target groups for the communication of science, they are positioned as recipients of knowledge excluded from the dialogic approach that aims to ensure that scientists listen and have a dialogue with the public, or excluded altogether from science by their economic or social backgrounds. It brings together examples of how to confront this exclusion by providing spaces where dialogue with children can be developed, and how these spaces can be used to open up the potential for institutional changes.

Convincing Policy Makers: The children as change agents agenda is an unashamedly ambitious one. It requires fundamental change, not the tinkering around at the edges that characterises much of what passes for educational reform. But to achieve this change takes a whole series of smaller steps. There is no big bang solution. The SiS Catalyst policy seminar series was an attempt to develop a model that could move us along the road of change. The aim was to bring policy makers together with a range of other stakeholders to develop a shared agenda. The thread running through the ecosystem that SiS Catalyst laid the foundations for was that impact can only be achieved collectively and this requires a shared agenda to work from. The policy seminars were an explicit attempt to build this agenda at the strategic level.

As the main dissemination activities and the exploitation of results of SiS Catalyst, the book and associated tools will have their own lifetime. The book was launched in the House of Lords, London in February 2015. This was the start of its own story which will continue through book launches in over 20 countries during the next 18 months. It is not possible to envisage the potential impact of these tools. They will be promoted within the RRI tools project and within European, national and international networks but where they will land, and how they will be tools for change will be forever largely unknown.

Ultimately simple twists of fate will dictate the impact of this work and to prove the point, the principal investigator will be pursuing her own future at EAFIT Children’s University, Medellin, Colombia. This first Children’s University in South America which was established as a direct consequence of the Rector buying a book about Tübingen’s Children’s University at an airport bookshop!

List of Websites:

http://siscatalyst.eu/

Principal Investigator Tricia Alegra Jenkins MBE, University of Liverpool tjenkins@liv.ac.uk +44 (0) 7973247930