Prof. Alexander Gerber
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 research and teaching in science communication together 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 reflective, inclusive 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 practice more effective and inclusive and thus put public interests at the heart of how knowledge is produced, shared, and applied.
A recent 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 science 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 Euroscience, iSMA, IAMCR, AESIS, PCST, EASST, and ECREA. Prof. Gerber also serves as a member of several Advisory Boards.
In contrast to most other (much shorter) Masters progammes, our 3.5-year course integrates 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 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. We also use computational social sciences increasingly.
Our research includes 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, focus 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 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, folled by another edition in 2018. The information scientist and long-time science journalist / author / film director formerly was Head of Marketing & Communications at Fraunhofer for seven years, and founder and editor-in-chief of InnoVisions Magazine.
Blog (inactive at the moment): http://scienceblogs.de/sic