Every year one of Europe’s leading popular science events is organised in Gothenburg, Sweden; The International Science Festival. It hosts hundreds of activities and has on average 70 000 visits. The festival also hosts a Forum for Science Communication. On 13 April 2016 the forum gathered more than 400 researchers and research communicators around the theme of “the changing face of science communication – from information-sharing to participation”.
The theme linked well to the first SEI project presented, which used a citizen science approach to monitor air pollution in informal settlements of Nairobi. The community members of these settlements volunteered and were trained to collect air quality data and conduct perception interviews. They also informed and educated the affected public about the risk air pollution poses to their health and options on how to overcome this risk.
The SEI Nairobi Centre produced a film about the project, which was played in the forum.
Collaborating with arts
The second contribution was the collaborative theatre project “The Anthropocene- the Human Scene” (“Antropocen – Människans Scen”). The goal of the Anthropocene project; to develop in-depth and innovative forms of collaboration between playwrights, performing artists and researchers. Eva Krutmeijer, the project manager, presented on stage, explaining how researchers are often pulled between specialization and achieving scientific merit, and on the other the need to pursue a more trans-disciplinary and holistic approach to challenges of modern society. At the same time the performing arts are trying to reach new audiences, and have many communication tools that researchers don’t usually use. The idea is that a blend of arts and science can be a win-win approach for both. The play was staged at the Swedish Royal Dramatic Theatre on 7 December 2015. New performances are planned for 2016.
At the forum, SEI also took part in the launch of the Swedish network for science communication: Forskom. Forskom is a platform for researchers and science communicators to meet and develop skills, share ideas and challenges. It’s a place to find inspiration for researchers’ projects and practical advice about everyday tasks. It is a network open to everyone working in the field, drawing on the leading practitioners and researchers from Sweden, Scandinavia and further afield.