Special Session SS37  26 June 2019

Making the case for European astronomy and space science:
public and political engagement

8 July: Summary of the Special Session published on Europlanet Society website.
14 June: Invited Speakers added.

Aims and scope

This special session brings together astronomers, science communicators, and policymakers to share experiences, strategies, best practice, and evaluation procedures to ensure that public and political engagement activities are meaningful and have impact.

The session will encourage discussion on types of engagement and platforms for fostering dialogue with different communities. Social media and online tools provide greater than ever opportunities for dialogue with the public and for the direct involvement of the taxpayers that ultimately pay for astronomy facilities and the science carried out with them. What lessons can be learned about when the use of social media is merited or when other forms of communication with different audiences, such as policymakers, might be a more effective use of resources?

In an era when fake news is widespread and the end of expertise is a topic of serious discussion we will invite reflection on public attitudes to science and how this informs best practice in public engagement. We will also consider attitudes to science communication within the astronomy community. What does research about the public understanding of science tell us about the impact of different models of communication? What training should be provided to equip researchers with the skills to engage with different audiences?

We invite discussion on what evaluation tools are available to provide meaningful qualitative and quantitative assessment of the impact of outreach activities to the public and policymakers. How much are current engagement efforts directed at 'preaching to the choir'? How can our community genuinely and effectively reach out to wider audiences and people with lower science capital - whether taxpayers or people in power?

The special session is structured as three blocks, each of 1.5 hours, during one day. Topics for discussion will include: different types of engagement, how best to reach different audiences, what does research tell us about effective ways to communicate, what evaluation tools are appropriate and useful.


Topics for discussion during this session will include:

  • Types of engagement
  • Platforms for engaging with different audiences
  • Effective use of communication and outreach resources
  • Public attitudes to science
  • Attitudes of scientists to communication and outreach
  • Measuring the impact of communication and outreach
  • Evaluation tools

Invited speakers

Jacqueline Campbell, University College London, UK
Marta Entradas, London School of Economics, UK & ISCTE-IUL, Portugal
Eric Jensen, Institute for Methods Innovation, UK
Mark McCaughrean, European Space Agency
Clare Moody, Member of the European Parliament

Scientific organisers

Mike Bode, European Astronomical Society ( michael.bode @ eas-astro.eu )
Anita Heward, Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure ( a.r.heward @ gmail.com )
Eric Lagadec, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, Nice ( Eric.Lagadec @ oca.eu )
Robert Massey, Royal Astronomical Society ( rmassey @ ras.ac.uk )
Konstantina Moutsouroufi, University of Athens ( k_moutsour @ hotmail.com )
Karen O'Flaherty, European Space Agency ( koflaher @ esa.int )


See above.

Updated on Tue Jul 09 21:30:43 CEST 2019