Final Conference of COST Cross-Cutting Activity on Science Communication


On 23 June 2022, COST organised the Final Conference of its ‘Cross-Cutting Activity’ (CCA) on Science Communication, chaired by Prof. David Budtz Pedersen. Held at Aalborg University in Copenhagen, the event marked a new and final milestone for the CCA. The entire programme revealed how strong and committed the science communication community, built over the last years, has become and how broad the spectrum covered by this topic currently is.

With a full day conference followed by a half day masterclass, the final CCA event brought together key stakeholders in the ‘scicomm’ community to present and discuss some of the current trends, good practices, as well as the main results of this initiative. The conference was attended by more than 70 participants, who have been actively involved on site as well as online. The inspiring and highly topical conference sessions resulted in great social media engagement (#COST_CCA), thereby bringing the rich debates and speakers’ content to wider audiences. Thanks to the excellent chairmanship of Prof David Budtz Pedersen and many engaging speakers, the conference inspired and motivated the audience.

CCA Final Conference participants with COST’s Judith Litjens and CCA Chair Prof David Budtz Pedersen

The Final Conference: Exploring the Impact of Science Communication and Public Engagement – Thursday 23 June

Opening the Conference, Johan Frederik Mau, Danish Ministry for Higher Education and Science and Danish representative in the COST Committee of Senior Officials, set the context for the day highlighting the relevance of Science Communication in the current challenging times. Climate change but also the recent pandemic demonstrate, more than ever, the need for effective Science Communication. He highlighted the important role it can play in responding to emerging needs, driven by societal, economic, and environmental changes. The COST CCA Conference was organised to assess the main drivers for amplifying the impact of Science Communication over the next decade.

Next, Prof David Budtz Pedersen introduced the specifics of the CCA, explaining that this is an integrative network connecting science with civil society and policymakers.

COST Policy Officer and CCA coordinator Judith Litjens highlighted the key achievements of the CCA: In addition to the more formal deliverables, such as the CCA webinar and publication on communicating science in times of COVID-19, several CCA members joined forces and submitted joint applications. Furthermore, there were a number of ad-hoc initiatives in which the CCA played a key role, such as seminars jointly organised with the European Science Engagement Association (EUSEA), the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), and the International Network of Government Science Advice (INGSA).”

Prof. David Budtz Pedersen


There is a need to increase scientific literacy and engage with the public.”

Prof. Rémi Quirion

A broadcasted introduction by Prof Rémi Quirion, President of International Network of Governmental Science Advice (INGSA) and Chief Scientist of Quebec, stressed the importance for citizens to understand the process of science to increase scientific literacy.


“Science communication should be careful to produce music instead of noise.”

Prof. Roger Pielke Jr.

Professor at the Department of Environmental Studies of the University of Colorado Boulder, Roger Pielke Jr. delivered a brilliant keynote lecture around the topic of Science Communication in a pandemic emergency and beyond. When touching the issue of scientists’ ethical role in the context of a highly politicised issues, Pielke expressed the importance of coordinating various scientific inputs through a creative metaphor: “We want to share expertise, but we risk making noise. Science communication should be careful to produce music instead of noise.”

Prof. Roger Pielke Jr.

It is essential to have a clear process during which questions are precisely framed to stimulate relevant and appropriate scientific advice for policymakers. This specific item was tackled in more depth during the following discussion panel.

Prof. Roger Pielke Jr. is the author of several books including “The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics”. Read more about Pielke’s intervention at the COST CCA Final Conference in his dedicated blog article here.


“Scientific advice needs to be tailored to the needs of individual institutions

Dr Alessandro Allegra

This first roundtable discussion featured the following panelists: Laura Webb (Knowledge Exchange Unit at the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology), Dr Alessandro Allegra (DG Research, EU Scientific Advice Mechanism Unit), Jens Degett (Science Stories) and Prof Alexander Gerber (Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences).

On protecting the integrity of Science Communication, the panel members reviewed the required steps to protect the independence and integrity of science communicators.

Prof. Gerber stressed that there is currently unrestricted access to the field of Science Communication, which raises the question of the need for standardisation, expectation, and certification for science communicators.

Dr Alessandro Allegra, Policy Officer at the European Commission, highlighted the importance of putting in place a process of internal foresight to assess when scientific advice is needed: this is an essential prerequisite for achieving impact.

Scientific advice needs to be tailored to the needs of the individual, which could potentially put at risk the independence in science advice.” explained Allegra during his intervention. 

Roundtable One


Designing the expected impact should be discussed with other partners”

Dr Annette Klinkert
Roundtable Two

The second panel discussion gave the floor to: Cissi Askwall (Vetenskap & Allmänhet), Annette Klinkert (EUSEA), Peter Hyldgård (Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters), and Ricarda Ziegler (Wissenschaft im Dialog) to discuss ways of integrating Science Communication activities in interdisciplinary mission-oriented research and innovation programmes.

Dr Annette Klinkert, Executive Director at EUSEA, said: “Designing the expected impact should not happen in isolation, but should be discussed with other partners,”.

Ricarda Ziegler added: “We need more discussion on what indicators we need, after which the discussion on bench marking can take place.“


Clear and effective Science Communication is as important as the evidence itself”

Prof. Nicole Grobert

Towards the end of the conference, Prof. Nicole Grobert, Chair of the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors and Professor of Materials Chemistry at the University of Oxford, shared her insights through a video on the indispensable role and impact of Science Communication for policy making. Going through the topic of transparency in the process of science advice, she insisted on the importance of how uncertainty should be assessed and how it can be communicated effectively:

“Clear and effective Science Communication is as important as the evidence itself to inform robust policy making for the complex issues we are facing today.”


Allowing for science conversations”

Prof. David Budtz Pedersen

Wrapping-up thisday of inspiring presentations and fruitful discussions, CCA and Conference Chair Prof. David Budtz Pedersen extracted some key takeaways for future collaborations and pointed to the need for impact indicators to be co-created: 

This conference has allowed science communication to turn into science conversation”.

The CCA Masterclass: Exploring Tools and Methods of Knowledge Mobilisation and Engagement – Friday 24 June 2022

Held in the stunning Royal Academy of Sciences in Copenhagen, this half day masterclass was organised to assess new methods and approaches on how to increase the value and use of science communication for end-users and stakeholders.

Harnessing the diverse mix of researchers present, interactive exchanges were sparked and input was collected on different topics such as stakeholders’ engagement and supporting knowledge uptake.

As the final CCA event drew to a close, many participants highlighted how valuable and insightful the two-day event had been.  

We realised today that rather than seeing science communication as an ‘add-on’ activity, it should be considered an ‘add-in’ activity, fully integrated into the world of science

Prof. David Budtz Pedersen

Towards a joint Declaration on Science Communication in Europe

As the topic of Science Communication keeps growing in importance, the CCA has brought together various key stakeholders in the scicomm community. Furthermore the initiative has demonstrated the relevance and need for clear and effective science communication.  

And the story continues: key takeaways from the conference will be included in a summarised statement ‘The Copenhagen Declaration on Science Communication in Europe’, which will be published later in the Summer 2022. Stay tuned!

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