Ellen Geerts is the senior advisor Science Communication at the AP University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. During her Master in Comm_unication Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, she already specialised in science communication and volunteered extensively at the national science festivals and other outreach activities such as the Science Cafés. With aver 10 years of experience in science communication, outreach and public engagement at different universities and colleges in Brussels and Flanders and also at the European Space Agency, she is an expert on training and supporting researchers to broaden the impact of their research. Another passion of hers is 1gender and diversity'. She is the cofaunder of the Digitai Leadership lnstitute, a non-profit organisation with a unique mission to promote inclusive digitai transfarmation by increasing participation of girls and women in ESTEAM* studies, careers and leadership a round the world.
*entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics
Session introduction text (one-two sentences, 250 words) Diversity in public engagement is strongly lacking, but higher education institutions also do not succeed in reaching diverse audiences with their science communication and outreach activities. The AP University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Antwerp recently concluded a research project which aimed to increase diversity among the participants in their existing science communication initiatives. Find out their tips and tricks, but also their failures when it comes to attracting and engaging a more diverse audience with public engagement and science outreach activities.
Session in-depth text (500-600 words; please give clear objectives far the session and indicate how your presentation will be interactive.) Diversity in public engagement is strongly lacking, but higher education institutions also do not succeed in reaching diverse audiences with their science communication and outreach activities.
The past decade, AP University of Applied Sciences and Arts has been organising STEM-academies (afterschool series of STEM-workshops far kids and youngsters, ages 7 - 18) and co-organising a big annua! science festival in Antwerp. Although these have always been very successful activities in number of participants, we were not reaching a very diverse audience.
Antwerp is a city with 500.000 people from 170 different nationalities and still we mostly reached white middle class families (and far the STEM-workshops mostly boys). So from 2016 to 2018 we ran a research project which aimed to increase diversity among the participants in our existing science communication initiatives. The fallowing two research questions were answered:
1. Which thresholds play a raie with the chosen target groups? 2. Does the elimination of the defined thresholds have an influence on the participation/attendance from the specific target groups?
The target groups whose participation we wanted to increase, were 1girls', 1children/families with a low SES', and 1children/families with diverse ethnic-cultural backgrounds'.
The final research rapport offers guidelines and good practices far providers of science communication initiatives regarding reaching a more diverse audience. These tips and tricks will be shared with you during this session, but we will also discuss our failures cause often we learn more from failure than from immediate success.
Furthermore, we would like to invite you to join a group discussion and get some expertise exchange going. When trying to increase diversity in science outreach and public engagement, do we stumble upon the same thresholds in different European countries? Or are there clear differences? Do you have a very specific success story in reaching a diverse audience with your science outreach activities?
Join and share your expertise!