Prof. Alexander Gerber
Chair, Science Communication / Course Director
Some impressions from meetings of our Science Communication Team
We are a team of dedicated science communication professionals with experience that crosses 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 science communication as an agent of social innovation and social justice.
We share a vision of science and innovation that includes a range of stakeholders in a process of co-production that is responsible, inclusive and sustainable.
Our work is guided by a trans-cultural, comparative approach. We are particularly interested in the global diversity of science communication and therefore try to learn from collaborating in projects with more than 80 different institutions worldwide. The department also activiely contributes to networks such as PCST, RedPOP, and EASST.
As a Science Communication Department we have a diverse roster of international partners, such as the National Research Foundation in South Africa, Dublin City University in Ireland, the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in Spain, the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel, the Université de Lyon in France, the University of Malta, the University of Edinburgh in the UK, the Itmo University in Russia, and the China Research Institute for Science Popularization, to name a few.
Our focus on socio-political dimensions of science communication, could be framed as an 'Open Science Communication', emphasising the shared responsibilities among different stakeholders of science.
In contrast to most other (much shorter) Masters progammes, our 3.5-year course integrated the 'craft' of communicating science with the theories and methodologies, by covering a wide spectrum from sociology to philosophy of science, to understand concepts such as 'Scientific Citizenship' or 'CSR'. Insights from social psychology and political communication inform our understanding of attitude-formation and cognition. Our students work with actual research data, e.g. in terms of data-visualisation, or machine learning for big-data analysis. They create mobile apps and develop communication plans for collaborating industrial or academic partner institutions. Social science research methods (e.g. evaluation) and increasingly also computational social sciences are at the heart of our programme.
The research projects conducted by our department, include six EU-funded "Horizon 2020" projects at the moment, such as the coordination of a research consortium of 25 partners ("NUCLEUS") working on institutional governance issues. Other projects such as RRING or Ô, focus on social innovation and social appropriation of science, including highly interdisciplinary forms of participatory design and stakeholder management. The CREATIONS project has worked on integrating arts in science education for the past three years.
The department co-hosts Europe's largest Summer School for Science Communication ("STEAM"), which was funded through the Erasmus+ scheme for three years, and was then turned into a social enterprise.
Prof. Gerber has supervised science communication evaluation projects for national and regional governments, including a global research field analysis, in his funtion as Research Director of the Institute for Science and Innovation Communication (inscico). In 2011, he initiated and coordinated the first "Trend Study" on Science Communication. The information scientist and long-time science journalist / author / film director formerly was Head of Marketing & Communications at Fraunhofer (ICT) for seven years, and founder and editor-in-chief of InnoVisions Magazine.
Prof. Gerber is an elected member of the Governing Board of Euroscience, and of the Scientific Steering Committee of PCST (Public Communication of Science an Technology Network). He serves as a member of several Advisory Boards. The department is a member of the Latin American science communication association RedPop, and the European STS network EASST.
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