Communicating Science for Impact: Insights from the ENGAGE.EU Science Communication Workshop at WU

From September 25-27, WU hosted an inspiring event called the ENGAGE.EU Science Communication Workshop: Communicating Science for Impact: Strategies for Reaching Diverse Audiences & Maximizing Benefits”. This workshop was organised within the ENGAGE.EU R&I project and it brought together experts, professors, and 24 aspiring science communicators from eight ENGAGE.EU partner universities to delve into the world of effective science communication.

The event featured speakers from three ENGAGE.EU partner universities – Tilburg University (TiU), the University of National and World Economy (UNWE), and the host institution, Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) – as well as an external speaker, WU alumna Elisabeth Wagner, in a joint effort to educate the science communicators of tomorrow.

Day One: The Significance of Science Communication

The workshop began with an exploration of the importance and challenges of communicating science to the public during the lecture “Costs and Benefits of Science Communication,” delivered by Harald Oberhofer, an experienced economics professor from WU with extensive experience in media.  These experts shared their wealth of knowledge and experience, shedding light on the complexities and nuances of effective science communication.

The day was not limited to theory; participants also had the opportunity to enhance their presentation techniques in the workshop titled “The Science of Presenting Science: Techniques and Best Practices for PhD Students,” led by Sabrina Kalinkova, Chief Assistant from UNWE.

The day concluded with a fireside chat titled “Sharing Science Stories: Navigating the Highs and Lows of Science Communication,” during which participants shared their experiences related to science communication.

Day Two: Navigating the Digital Landscape of Science Communication

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the importance of online communication cannot be underestimated. The second day of the workshop focused on online science communication. After a tour of WU’s Future Learning Experience Center, where participants had the opportunity to experience the latest technological developments, the first presentation was given by TiU’s science communication specialist, Femke Trommels “Introduction to Science Communication: How to Promote Your Research Online”. Participants gained valuable insights into harnessing the power of social media, writing compelling blogs, and creating engaging online posts. The workshop concluded with a Q&A session with Assistant Professor Tila Pronk, who has a strong media background.

The day concluded with a presentation by Elisabeth Wagner, a WU alumna and science communicator, titled “Like, Share, Learn: Science Communication on Social Media – A Battle Against Windmills.” Her presentation delved into the effective utilization of social media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram, for science communication, emphasizing the vital importance of reaching a wider public with scientific information and engagement.

Day Three: Building Communities and Exploring Academic Pathways

The final day of the workshop focused on two crucial aspects of science communication – community building and exploring career paths within academia. The day began with ENGAGE.EU community manager Rianne Strijker-van Asperen from TiU conducting a workshop on community building. Participants not only learned the theory but also had a hands-on opportunity to practice writing an article for the ENGAGE.EU Research Community Platform. This segment imparted valuable skills for creating and maintaining a community of engaged researchers, fostering an environment for the exchange of scientific knowledge and ideas.

After the engaging community-building workshop, WU professor of business communication, Jens Seifert-Brockmann, delivered a lecture on “Career Paths in Academia,” illuminating the diverse range of career opportunities available to researchers. In a rapidly evolving field, attendees left equipped with valuable insights and knowledge to navigate and define their professional journeys.

The highlight of the workshop was the ENGAGE.EU Science Slam, which provided the participants with a unique opportunity to practice their skills in crafting impactful messages about their research in a concise time frame, tailored to specific target audiences, and delivering them in an effective way. This session was significantly enriched by the invaluable feedback provided by experts, including Rianne Strijker-van Asperen, ENGAGE.EU community manager, WU professor of macroeconomics, Jesus Crespo Cuaresmo, and science communication specialist from WU, Raffael Fritz.

In conclusion, the ENGAGE.EU Science Communication Workshop was a unique initiative that fostered the growth of communicators and advocates for science outreach. This workshop served as a call to action, uniting experts and participants to bridge the gap between science and the public. The program highlighted the collaborative strength of the ENGAGE.EU European University Alliance and its commitment to excellence and societal impact. It encouraged active engagement, knowledge sharing and mutual inspiration to make science accessible to all.