Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RETHINK (RETHINK)
Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-03-31
These issues and their challenges require us to RETHINK the theory and practice of science communication. How can we contribute to a productive relationship between science and society, and support the opening up of research and innovation practices whilst simultaneously maintaining and improving the quality of interactions amongst the actors involved? The mission of RETHINK is to improve the quality of interactions between science and society by providing concrete recommendations and training resources for nurturing open and reflexive science-society interfaces.
A central element in our project is constituted by the Rethinkerspaces, local communities that collectively engage in a transformative process of inquiry and learning. In line with the diversity of the newly emerging landscape, we bring together a heterogeneous group of people, including scientists, policy-makers, journalists, public engagement professionals and other practitioners, in Rethinkerspaces, local hubs for inquiry and learning. The Rethinkerspaces have been set up in Serbia, Italy, Portugal, UK, Sweden, the Netherlands and Poland. Throughout the course of the project, the Rethinkerspaces reflect on preliminary research results and actively co-create new frameworks, strategies and actions. By strengthening the relationships between the different actors and their communities, the Rethinkerspaces form a node in wider networks of science communication and contribute to open and reflexive science communication practices. Our research and transformative learning activities go through three consecutive phases: 1) understand the issues of the new science communication landscape; 2) develop new strategies to deal with its complexities; 3) synthesise findings into guidelines and frameworks to support the transition towards more inclusive and co-productive relationships between science and society from the perspective of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI).
Overall, RETHINK’s expected impact is to contribute to transformative learning to support more open and reflexive science communication practices in light of the transition towards inclusive and co-productive relationships between science and society. In the first 15 months of the project we contributed to this aim by performing research that has provided a deeper understanding of online science communication practices in 7 European countries, focusing in particular on scientists and professional science communicators, but also looking at new hybrid actors that are strongly influencing the online communication of topics related to climate change, healthy eating and artificial intelligence. We have also performed research activities within each Rethinkerspace, representing a unique opportunity for a variety of actors active in science communication to meet and interact locally, and a mean for us to better understand local practices, challenges and barriers to science communication in each community. Building upon this first set of research funding, and these newly created local communities, the following 21 months of the project will focus on pushing forward the transformative process, as the Rethinkerspaces will start the experimentation phase that will include working with new roles, repertoires and strategies to increase the quality of science communication in the digital age.