Kick-off meeting of new COST initiative: Cross-Cutting Activity on Science Communication

On 2 October 2019 the kick-off meeting of the newly established COST Cross-Cutting Activity (CCA) on science communication took place in Brussels. This CCA, which will run as a pilot from 2 October 2019 until 1 October 2021, will aim to achieve high-quality, evidence-based and cross-sectoral science communication across Europe. This global objective will be the key focus of the high-level CCA network, consisting of researchers, journalists, policy makers, and representatives from public institutions. With this initiative, COST provides CCA members with a platform for exchange between 43 organisations, all of them active in the wider field of science communication.

The COST Strategic Plan introduces the CCA as a tool to better connect policy makers and R&I players to share best practices. The primary beneficiaries of the outcomes will be COST Action participants and the wider R&I (policy) community in Europe. Other CCA initiatives are foreseen to be launched in the future and will also address horizontal topics in line with the European Research Area (ERA) framework.

As outlined in the draft Memorandum of Understanding , the pilot CCA on science communication will use COST networking instruments to achieve several deliverables in the context of the following specific objectives:

  1. Create learning tools for public engagement in science communication;
  2. Explore ways of achieving high-quality, evidence-based, interdisciplinary science communication, targeting the appropriate audiences;
  3. Address the gap between the scientific community, policy makers, journalists and citizens;
  4. Develop high-quality training in science communication.

Deliverables foreseen to be produced by the network include a concise, user-friendly overview of good practice examples and lessons learnt by leading stakeholders in science communication; a ‘train the trainers’ programme in science communication; a comprehensive stakeholder mapping; and the organisation of conferences.

Above: Discussions during the CCA kick-off meeting

The kick-off meeting provided more than 40 CCA members with the opportunity to form Working Groups (WGs) and discuss in detail WG tasks and deliverables. Furthermore, COST had the pleasure to introduce Prof. David Budtz Pedersen as the CCA leader for the next 2 years. As a Professor of Science Communication and Director of the Humanomics Research Institute in Copenhagen, he has an international public presence with outreach activities in science policy, open science, responsible impact assessment and evidence-informed policy-making.

Prof. David Budtz Pedersen addresses CCA Members

In his presentation, Prof. David Budtz Pedersen emphasised that “we need to get stakeholders to understand the need, resources, added-values and impact of science communication”.

Having benefited from active engagement from the CCA members during the kick-off meeting, the network is now ready to start putting ideas into practice. As a first next step, WG members will structure their tasks for the next two years, followed by active implementation of WG activities with the aim to meet the deliverables specified for their WG.

Watch this space: Future activities of the CCA network(s) will be published on a dedicated web page which will feature on the COST website within the next few months. In the meantime, the draft Memorandum of Understanding, including a list of all CCA member organisations, can be accessed here.