In today’s world, excellent research and innovation are based on a dialogue – not just between a scientific or technological elite, but with an informed and engaged public at large. The European Alliance for Science Communication fosters this dialogue by networking innovation stakeholders.
The Public as Innovation Stakeholders
Research and innovation affects all our lives, shaping developments in areas as diverse as climate, food, environment, health, urban design, and communication. As a result, more and more of us – both ‘experts’ and ‘laymen’ – are turning into ‘R&D stakeholders’, be it as consumers, patients, funders, voters, as present or future employees. As such, the public has become a valuable partner for the scientific establishments, companies and governments which increasingly need to ensure public support for scientific and technological innovation.
As a result, many organisations involved in research and innovation are exploring ways to improve how they engage with their public. To foster acceptance, engagement and participation in research and innovation, new ways of exchanging information, knowledge and best practice between these different stakeholders also have to be found.
Many Voices – Lost Meaning
Yet public dialogue itself remains fragmented as communicators from academia, industry, public and third-sector organisations seldom cross sectoral or disciplinary borders to collaborate on key messages. Individuals and organisations from different backgrounds tend to frame their message based on their backgrounds, not the needs of the public. Moreover, they are employing different tools and channels, often offering conflicting messages on the very same societal challenges.
What is lacking is a platform that enables such an exchange – a platform that is neutral, open, inclusive and content-led.
As technological developments have raised very similar issues for all Europeans, a collaboration transcending national borders would be needed. At the moment, there is no ‘place’ to systematically exchange information on converging themes. No European network exists that brings together stakeholders in science communication and public engagement (European Alliance for Science Communication – SCOPE Network) from different countries, from different disciplines and from different sectors. This is where the SCOPE Network comes in.
SCOPE.net: Networking Innovation Stakeholders for Better Public Engagement
By providing a space for open dialogue and practical exchange between SCOPE researchers and practitioners, the SCOPE Network will provide a much-needed opportunity for diverse stakeholders to share findings, to discuss trends and to compare experiences. This sharing of information and creation of synergies is an essential objective of the SCOPE Network’s vision as it provides a forum for organisations to get on the same page and address the problems of fragmentation of dialogue and mixed messages together. This will ultimately contribute to the effectiveness and impact of science communication in Europe.
The SCOPE Network will also address pre- and misconceptions between key stakeholders which often hinder an open dialogue by establishing an open and inclusive European network of experts. These experts will come from various research fields, from theory and practice, from academia, industry, public institutions and NGOs. By connecting silos of knowledge, the SCOPE Network will help stakeholders breach the barriers that keep them from working together and contribute to the fostering of cross-sector collaboration.
Networking Knowledge, People and Ideas
The result of this will be the creation of new exchanges, joint actions and networks of knowledge and practice. Face-to-face meetings, often open to the wider SCOPE Community, will be established under the SCOPE Exchanges initiative which promotes the connecting of communities, the fostering of knowledge exchange, joint capacity building, and the development and dissemination of best practice. This will be promoted through short-term scientific exchanges, trans-sector thematic workshops on overarching themes, a SCOPE training programme, and European SCOPE conferences.
To disseminate the information generated from this new open network of SCOPE stakeholders, a quarterly newsletter focusing on the latest findings and best practice trends will be published as part of the SCOPE Insights initiative. In addition to the newsletter, SCOPE Briefings will report on the overarching themes that combine the insights from relevant industry, academic, NGO and policy stakeholders on key public questions and debates. A SCOPE Toolkit will also be available which will outline the role, objectives and key strategies of SCOPE for better research and innovation in Europe.
With the objective of reaching the widest audience possible, SCOPE activities, expert profiles and publications will be made available on the SCOPE Online Platform which will be structured along shared thematic interests. The platform will also feature key studies, best practice examples, texts and media generated by the SCOPE stakeholders.
Mission in a Nutshell
A European approach to SCOPE can only be shaped through constant dialogue, exchange and cross-fertilisation between academic research and professional application. The exchanging of data, ideas, experiences and best practice through the SCOPE Network will lead to new insights at national level, and joint activities on a European level that will benefit the European Research Area and the European public as a whole.
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