On 22 July 2020, an online meeting on the CCA on Science Communication was held. The meeting, which was chaired by Prof. David Budtz Pedersen (CCA leader), had the aim to revitalise network activities and discuss next steps. A total of 33 CCA members attended the event, which marked the first time a CCA meeting was held in a digital format.
During the first session of the two session meeting, the Webinar on COVID-19, CCA members were invited to share their involvement in communication activities related to COVID-19. A total of 9 CCA members, representing the European Commission, academia, and not-for-profit organisations, expressed an interest in contributing in this context. A great variety of topics were highlighted during the webinar presentations, including the need for open science and open approaches on how data is used by governments; the relationship between science and politics and science and the media; the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions of the European Commission supporting researchers in finding solutions to COVID-19 challenges; conspiracy theories in times of crises; surveys investigating the public’s trust in science; the role of universities in locating experts for media engagement; a co-creative marathon of ideas, focusing on open innovation, reaching multiple publics and recreating public meeting places; and COVID-19 providing a platform for testing new communication formats.
The Webinar was followed by the Business meeting, during which working group discussions took place in break-out rooms. The break-out room discussions were led by the working group leaders and focused on concrete activities that can be taken up in the next few months by the three CCA working groups:
- WG 1 on high-quality, interdisciplinary and evidence-based science communication;
- WG 2 on effective, high-quality training in science communication with a focus on training based on the state of the art in science communication;
- WG 3 on connecting researchers, science journalists/communicators, stakeholders and policy makers, engaging citizens where possible.
The meeting highlighted the fact that, in this new reality, effective communication is more needed than ever. Several participants stressed the need for an interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral debate on how to respond to COVID-19 challenges. Another trend that was widely endorsed was the increased trust in science from the public (“people want to hear from experts”), which gives a key role to science communication in the COVID crisis.
The network will continue to explore how the COVID-19 context can best be integrated as the CCA on Science Communication moves forward.
CCA on Science Communication
The main aim and objective of the CCA network on science communication is to achieve high-quality, evidence-based and cross-sectoral science communication to enhance the societal value of research and innovation across Europe. In this context, the network will encourage stakeholder engagement and dialogue across Europe, set priorities, and define tools and channels necessary to connect researchers, journalists, diverse stakeholders and citizens and policymakers.
Between 2019 and 2021, the CCA network on science communication will facilitate exchange between researchers, journalists, media centres, policy makers, research funding bodies, stakeholder organisations and public institutions in order to meet the objectives outlined below as well as to facilitate ‘matchmaking’ of relevant actors across Europe to enhance the effectiveness of the sector.
Further information on the CCA on Science Communication, including the Memorandum of Understanding, can be found on the COST CCA on Science Communication web page.