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It has been a couple of weeks since the #EUSEA24 conference, and now that everyone in the EUSEA office has had a little time to rest and reflect, we are all in agreement that the conference was a huge success!

Although we had a few trepidations and worries in the weeks leading up to the conference, with many meetings with the EUSEA board and the organisational team at  Ilia State University (Ana and Salome were a very calming and reassuring presence), we are so glad that we put our trust in them and that the EUSEA community could be in Tbilisi with the people of Georgia as they stand up for their own personal and national identity.

The EUSEA community came from far and wide, and on Tuesday, we convened in the beautiful and vibrant city of Tbilisi to start the fun and catch up early. Although the weather may not have been on our side on this particular day, our clothes may have been dampened, but not our spirits, as we took a trip to Georgia’s former capital, Mtskheta.

Mtskheta has immense cultural and religious significance, and thanks to our very enthusiastic guide, we were treated to tours of some of the most beautiful cathedrals and cultural highlights of this beautiful town, being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world; there was so much history and stories to hear, in so little time. We then got our first of many tastes of the authentic local cuisine and a drop or two of the famous Georgian wine.

However, we could not enjoy ourselves too much as we returned to our respective hotels and rested up for the busy two days ahead.

Day 1- May 15th 

We headed out early to meet our hosts from Ilia State University, who had pulled out all the stops to welcome us to their city and institution. We started as we always do, with hot drinks and a chance to catch up with our friends and colleagues, a very important part of every EUSEA conference, and to provide us with the energy for a fruitful day.

Once we had fueled up, we were ready to kick off the conference properly with a welcome from our then-president, Cissi Askwall, and the Rector of Ilia State University, Nino Doborjginidze, who set out our mission for the conference, to explore the “Value of Identity – Public Engagement Beyond Boundaries“.

After this warm welcome, the EUSEA community was honoured to introduce our first keynote speaker, Prof. Giga Zedania, previously the Rector of Ilia State University and now the Director of the Center for Advance Studies.  Prof Zedania spoke to us about the role universities play in public engagement through a modern lens, and in the dramatic world we find ourselves in today.

After this inspiring presentation by Prof Zedania, our EUSEA community were welcome to explore the wide variety of parrel sessions, ranging from using the art of story-telling and creativity to explore issues around identity, developing role-playing exercises for developing critical thinking skills in schools, creating a safe environment for making mistakes, as well as a whole array of thought-provoking horizon talks and poster pitches, where projects from around the world could share some of the details into the work they are doing, and welcome insights from the wider EUSEA community.

Once we finished the first day of the conference, we were ready to experience more of the Georgian food and culture and were not disappointed. We were taken to a beautiful little restaurant called “In the Shadows of Metekhi” in the perfect spot to provide a picturesque view overlooking Old Tbilisi. We were treated to a smorgasbord of local cuisine, accompanied by performances of traditional Georgian music and dancing, truly a dinner and a show!

How else could we end such a fantastic night but with cake?

Day 2- May 16th 

We kicked off the conference’s second day with something a little different as we welcomed our second joint key-note speakers to the EUSEA stage. Two inspiring EUSEA Young Talents: Shakked Dabran-Zivan, a PhD student at the Faculty of Education in Science & Technology at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, and Anouk de Jong, a PhD candidate in science communication at the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences at the University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands.

These two young minds shared their experiences of How Identities and Cultures Shape Online Engagement with Science in the Post-Truth Era, discussing how modern science engagement and behaviours have shaped the world and how we may hope to combat the rise of misinformation in a post-trust future.

Once we had heard from our two fantastic young contributors, there was another round of parallel sessions where participants could explore ideas of reaching out to grassroots citizen science projects, with our very own Chris Styles talking on behalf of the IMPETUS project, developing a glocal European food education programme, researchers can embrace their identity and embrace communication through opening up, not dumbing down!

The conference’s final session was an in-depth panel discussion on “Future identities in public engagement—where might we be in five years?”. Which was chaired by EUSEA Vice-president Ken Skeldon and featured contributions from:

  • Mamoeletsi Mosia, the Managing Director of the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement at the National Research Foundation (NRF-SAASTA).
  • Philipp Burkard, the Director of Science et Cité in Switzerland, a national charity promoting dialogue between science and society through accessible and innovative projects.
  • Joseph Roche, the Director of Research for the School of Education at Trinity College Dublin leads international research projects investigating the role of science in society.
  • Cissi Askwall, EUSEA president and National Coordinator at the Vetenskapsrådet / Swedish Research Council.

With that, we came to a close to the 2024 EUSEA conference, a very bittersweet time as we say a huge thank you to our hosts at the Ilia State University ( especially to Ana and Salome for all of their fantastic work) and to our president, Cissi Askwall, who stepped down after six incredible years. But this is not really a goodbye, as we will certainly be keeping in touch with Cissi and look forward to all our future collaborations.

We also had a very exciting announcement as we shared the location for the #EUSEA25 conference, which will be hosted by our friends at La Palma Research Centre on the Isla de La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain, an official introduction from Helena Robert i Campos.

General Assembly

Although the conference had officially ended, there was still work to do. After a short break, we launched straight into our annual EUSEA General Assembly, where the core EUSEA team shared some of the organisation’s key updates over the past twelve months.

With Cissi’s departure, we need to appoint a new EUSEA President. After careful deliberation, our previous Vice President, Keneth Skeldon, was elected to the position, as were new board members David Price from Science Made Simple and Maria Hagardt from Vetenskap & Allmänhet. This was a bittersweet announcement, as we are very excited to see the direction the new president and board will take EUSEA, but it also means we had to say a huge thank you to Edward Duca, who has been on the board since 2020. Still, again, this is not goodbye, as we will surely hear about Edward’s great work in combining science communication, art, and enterprise at future EUSEA conferences and events. We can not wait to continue our fruitful work together.

Kenneth Skeldon 

Maria Hagardt

David Price

Edward Duca

It was an honour to visit the beautiful city of Tblisis and show our support for the Georgian people in pursuing their own cultural and national identity.

The EUSEA office would like to extend a huge thank you to the Organisational team at Ilia State University (especially the support of Ana and Salome, who, without the conference, would not have been possible) and to the EUSEA community who made the journey, and whose contributions to the conference provided us with a lot to think about, both professionally and personally.

If you would like to look through just a few of the special moments from the conference, click here, and we cannot wait to see you on the Isla de La Palma for #EUSEA25.