Prof. Alexander Gerber

Science Communication


Our work aims at crossing what is often seen as the divide between scholarship and practice. We are a community of staff and students working towards a common goal of bringing together research and teaching on communication as an agent of social innovation. We share a vision of science and innovation that includes a wide range of stakeholders in a process of co-production that is reflective and sustainable.

The school of thought we have helped to establish, is 'Evidence-based Science Communication', arguing for an improved knowledge exchange between scholarship and practice to make communication more strategic, effective, and inclusive, putting public interests at the heart of how knowledge is produced, shared, and applied.

An example for the systemic approach of our work is the first in-depth empirical field analysis of science communication research (2020), and the research-led teaching on CSR and Social Innovation.

Our work is guided by a trans-cultural, comparative approach. We are particularly interested in the global diversity of communication and therefore try to learn from collaborating in projects with more than 80 different institutions worldwide. We also activiely contribute to learned societies / associations such as EuroscienceiSMA, IAMCRAESISPCST, EASST,  and ECREA. Prof. Gerber also serves as a member of several Advisory Boards.

The 3.5-year Science Communication course we offered from 2012-2020, integrated the 'craft' of communicating science (and sustainability issues in particular) with a robust understanding of empirical social science methodologies. The theory we train with our students, covers a wide spectrum from sociology of science to sustainability studies, so that abstract concepts such as 'Corporate Sustainability', 'Social Innovation', or 'Scientific Citizenship' become more tangible. Insights from social psychology and political sciences inform our understanding of attitude-formation and cognition. Our students work directly with research data when exploring challenges such as complex visualisations, or machine learning for big-data analysis. They create mobile apps and develop communication plans with and for collaborating industrial or academic partner institutions. We also use computational social sciences regularly.

Over the past few years, the research in our group included several contract-research projects for industry and private foundations, as well as seven EU-funded "Horizon 2020" projects, such as the coordination of "NUCLEUS" on communication issues of anticipatory institutional governance and culture change. Other projects such as RRING, GRRIP, TeRRIFICA and Ô, all completed in 2022, focused on social innovation, sustainability communication, and social appropriation of science, including highly interdisciplinary forms of participatory design and stakeholder management. The CREATIONS project focused on integrating arts in science education. 

The department also co-hosted Europe's largest Summer School for Science Communication ("STEAM"), originally funded through the Erasmus+ scheme for three years, and then turned into a social enterprise. Based on two DAAD-funded initiatives, we have established a university collaboration with the Royal University of Phnom Penh (Cambidia).

Prof. Gerber has supervised science communication evaluation projects for national and regional governments, in his function as Research Director of the Institute for Science and Innovation Communication (inscico), which is also part of the recently-launched EU Green Deal project AURORA on environmental impacts monitoring. In 2011, he initiated and coordinated the first "Trend Study" on Science Communication (Stifterverband der Deutschen Wissenschaft), followed by another edition in 2018.

Before joining Rhine-Waal University, Prof. Gerber has worked as a science journalist / author / film director, and later became Head of Marketing & Communications at Fraunhofer Group (ICT) for seven years. He also founded and served as editor-in-chief of InnoVisions Magazine. 

Prof. Gerber serves on various Advisory Boards, for instance for the European Food Information Council and the regional chamber of commerce's (IHK) Research & Innovation Committee. 

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Twitter / X: @inscico

ORCID: 0000-0002-9737-1267

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