Since 2018, eight science communication research projects have been funded by the European Commission. These projects are a response to one of the European Commission’s ‘Science with and for Society’ (SwafS) funding calls — “SwafS-19: Taking stock and re-examining the role of science communication”. NEWSERA is part of this group, and as the others has been affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

To provide an overview of how the pandemic has impacted science communication research, the 8 SwafS-19 projects have collaborated on a paper, that has been published on December 22, 2021 on the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science, in the section Science and Environmental Communication. Among the list of authors from the NEWSERA Consortium are Rosa Arias, Joana Magalhães (Science for Change), Elisabetta Tola and Marco Boscolo (Formicablu).

The paper provides an overview of the eight projects, how they adapted to the challenges caused by the pandemic, and the subsequent implications for science communication policy and research funding. It also highlights the unique opportunities posed by conducting science communication research during a global crisis in which issues such as trust in science, risk communication, and misinformation have taken the spotlight:

The initiation of the eight SwafS-19 science communication research projects during a public health crisis has provided a unique opportunity to explore how aspects of [the relationship between science and society] have changed. Perceptions of risk, uncertainty, credibility, and democracy have all received unprecedented attention in public discourse. The SwafS-19 objective of assessing science communication and its perception by citizens, with an underlying aim of building trust in science through clearer avenues of communication between all stakeholders, enhanced societal participation, and greater understanding of science, is tailor-made for confronting the challenges created by the pandemic.

The overall pre-pandemic goal of the projects in 2018 was to take stock of current changes in the landscape of science, innovation, and its communication, and from this basis, to empower citizens through enhanced accuracy of information and more effective knowledge-transfer. This goal has become far more pressing in the intervening years. With the outbreak of the pandemic and need for swift, drastic, and often contested decision-making, it has also become evident that effective science communication must be a fundamental component of policy-making, especially in terms of emergency and disaster management and climate communication (Kahan, 2012Chinn et al., 2020Koerber, 2021). The pandemic has also brought about dramatic changes to how large-scale research projects can be implemented, with wholesale conversion to online conferences and virtual events (Amemado, 2020Klöwer et al., 2020Niner et al., 2020Roche et al., 2021aRoche et al., 2021b). These challenges have highlighted that there is more need than ever for researchers and practitioners to harness their shared science communication expertise (Jensen and Gerber, 2020).

Read the full article on Frontiers in Environmental Science.

See the list of SwafS-19 projects on our website.


Cover photo by Pixabay/Pexels.