Conference Summary of EUSEA 2022: Co-Creating the Future
6-7 July, Munster Technological University, Cork, Ireland
All of us at the EUSEA office have just about recovered from a very busy, but also a very enjoyable time in Cork for the EUSEA 2022 Conference – Co-creating the Future!
The fun started early, as on the night before the big day we were all invited to a reception at the beautiful Blackrock Castle Observatory, an iconic landmark just outside the city of Cork. The castle was built back in the 1500’s, and was later converted into a research facility in the early 2000s. This was a fantastic opportunity for everyone to catch up with old friends, or make new ones before the conference began.
The conference started with a lovely opening ceremony, with an introduction from the Deputy Lord Major of Cork, Damian Boylan, and Prof. Maggie Cusack, President of Munster Technological University, who warmly welcomed us all to Cork and officially opened the conference. We were all treated to a lovely rendition on the harp, performed by MTU music graduate Siobhan Brady who also shared her story of how she became a Guinness World Record breaker for the Highest Harp Concert ever! This was performed at 5000m as part of the Desmond Gentle’s project to raise awareness and funds for Cystitis Fibrosis research.
After warm and welcoming words from EUSEA President Cissi Billgren Askwall, we were introduced to our first keynote speaker of the Conference, Dr Abigail Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society at Science Foundation Ireland. Dr Freeman spoke about the Creating our Future project, an Ireland-wide initiative where people from local communities could share their thoughts on what aspects of science research they considered to be important to them, and what research they would like to see scientists focus on in the future. These findings were then published and shared with research institutes across the country, to be used as a guide for potential research initiatives in the future, bridging the gap between science and society and paving the way for innovations and discoveries that matter to both the research community and the wider public.
After a short break to recharge the mental batteries, audiences were then free to choose what they would like to learn more about, as sessions were broken up into short-horizon talks, interactive workshops and panel discussions, featuring contributions on Responsible Research and Innovation, Citizen Science, and incorporating art into STEM outreach, to name but a few.
After a quick lunch and a few more sessions, everyone reconvened in the main hall for some important EUSEA updates. First of all, EUSEA director Annette Klinkert and Whitney Buchanan from Falling Walls made the announcement that EUSEA has joined the International Year of Science Engagement 2027 (IYSE) team. The IYSE works to provide an interactive space in which the citizens of the world can engage with science. With this proposal, the IYSE is working with the United Nations in the hopes of proclaiming the International Year of Science Engagement in 2027.
The final official order of the first day of the #EUSEA22 conference was the launch of a new initiative – the EUSEA Carousel! This carousal is an opportunity for EUSEA members to get a taste of the inner workings of another member’s institution, not only to learn new approaches to public engagement, but to also to share their experience. This was a fantastic opportunity for mutual learning through an extended working placement. Jump onboard the EUSEA carousel and learn more here.
After this announcement the first day of the EUSEA conference came to a close, but that was not the end of the day! Later that evening we were all treated to a delicious meal overlooking the beautiful River Lee, and then for those who still had a little bit of energy left, there was Irish music and dancing until late into the night!
Day 2 kicked off with our second key note speaker, Jon Chase, a project scientist from Leiden University and science rapper, who spoke to us all about the deficit model of science communication and public engagement, and how we all need to adapt our approaches if we hope to develop meaningful engagement with different audience groups. After the formalities, Jon then performed one of his science raps for us.
After another round of group sessions, covering topics such as stakeholder training, protecting researchers from harassment online, and inclusivity in STEM Outreach, we all reconvened again in the main hall, where EUSEA Board member Philipp Burkard and EUSEA Project Officer Chris Styles gave an update on the EUSEA Science Engagement Platform. The platform showcases a list of activities, good reads and toolkits created by practitioners for practitioners, providing advice and inspiration for our community to try something a little different when it comes to their own public engagement activities.
With this, we drew a close to the official part of the EUSEA conference. We thanked our friends from the MTU for all their hard work and dedication, the Science Foundation Ireland for providing funding for the conference, and all those who contributed to the conference, making #EUSEA22 the fantastic success that it was. We also provided a little taster of what to expect for #EUSEA23.
However, this was not the end of the day, as we still had some important EUSEA work to do at the general assembly, where all of our EUSEA members were invited to either join in person, or online. During the general assembly, the current EUSEA president Cissi Billgren Askwall was re-elected for another term, and the EUSEA team had to share some slightly bitter sweet news, as one of our lovely board members Aleksandra Drecun, who after 6 years of being with us has ended her final term with us and will be truly missed. But, as a consequence of that we had the opportunity to hear from a list of potential candidates for three positions on the board. Previous board members Edward Duca and Kenneth Skeldon were re-elected. As a new Board member, the EUSEA members elected, Rony Ben-Chaim, Deputy Director-General at the Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem. We are very excited to work with her, and we cannot wait to see what the future of EUSEA will look like with her on the team!
And with that #EUSEA22 ended. It was truly wonderful to see so many of our EUSEA friends and family again and discuss the future we all want to see in the world we share. Co-creation will continue to be one of the cornerstones of the work that EUSEA does, and as we face increasingly difficult challenges it is important to know that we are not alone in this endeavour. Together we will face and shape whatever the future has in store for us! Stay connected!