All stakeholders, from researchers to professionals, policy makers and citizens must contribute to achieve sustainable development and the SDGs. Researchers have to provide the acquired knowledge, whereas professionals and policy makers need the capacity to face and manage complex issue. Citizens’ engagement is necessary in order to promote a constructive dialogue that supports both research and policy. Education and Science Communication are two key components to launch and support this process.
The environmental, social and economic pillars are the framework of sustainable development. In order to preserve the environment and guarantee the needs of future generations, environmental management needs to combine several aspects such as waste management, water quality, air monitoring, pollution prevention, sustainable agriculture, energy & energy efficiency, mobility, urban development, both at a global and local scale.
In the last 10 years, VIU has developed educational projects for policy makers and professionals to transfer knowledge and share best practices on scientific, economic and social aspects of sustainable development.
Recently, VIU has paid growing attention to science communication, as it is increasingly entering the public debate at different levels. The reason is not only to transfer and disseminate knowledge to a wider audience, rather to raise citizens’ awareness towards those topics that stems from research and that daily impacts their lives (health, food safety and climate change are among the most popular examples). Citizens can thus be actively involved in the debate with the scientific community as well as with all competent authorities, including policy makers.
To be effective, Science Communication needs to be inclusive and based on a multi-stakeholder approach involving scientists, researchers, journalists, communicators, public relation officers, policy-makers and, of course, the citizens. It can today take advantage of a variety of tools and settings such as the academia, research institutions, (social) media, museums, festivals, visual and performing arts. In this way, Science Communication can reach its main objective, to communicate scientific knowledge in all those situations where citizens, i.e. non-scientists, are an essential part of the audience.
- To promote capacity building build the capacity for professionals and policy makers
- To train researchers as well as professional communicators to an effective communication of research results, able to use an accessible language and trustable sources
- To strengthen the dialogue with scientific and governmental institutions in order to have them recognize the value of Science Communication and hence engage them in supporting it through investments and incentives
- To promote Science Communication as a discipline – based on a strong interdisciplinary approach – able to open new job opportunities for the younger generations
In line with VIU methodology, networking and building communities around discussion topics is at the basis of our approach to projects, with the aim to activate competencies in a variety of disciplines and to work with research institutions, public authorities and the private sector. Our projects on this focus area built around:
- Capacity building to policy makers and professionals as short training sessions addressing a specific topic approached through a multi-disciplinary perspective. In-class sessions and site visits supports the adopted methodology.
- Public engagement events are conceived as open to the public, targeting a wide audience, with a specific goal of engaging the large public while raising their awareness and spreading the knowledge among different stakeholders and disciplines.
- Research and training on Science Communication is meant to provide the knowledge base and capacity to communicate research results to the wide public. The analyzed topics include RRI, citizen science, open science. This is a key element to support consumers’ awareness in their choices and to have an increasing active role in science and research.