The submissions to the pilot fund ‘Science communication by scientists: Appreciated!’ illustrate the broad scope and diversity of science communication activities by researchers in the Netherlands. Three awards go to the University of Twente to: Frank Leferink (EEMCS): Electrical interference, 5G and electromagnetic fields; Rick Hogeboom (ET): The water footprint of our consumer society and Arjan Dijkstra (ITC): Earth observation for sustainable development. These studies with the aim of informing society will each receive an award of €10.000.
Although interaction between science and society is of enormous importance, science communication is still far from being recognised as integral to the tasks of science. The pilot fund ‘Science communication by scientists: Appreciated!’ – set up by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and administered by the Academy – takes a step towards showcasing and rewarding the many scientists who have dedicated themselves to science communication.
‘The submissions to Appreciated! make clear for the first time how much researchers are already achieving in science communication and public engagement,’ says the chair of the assessment committee, Academy member Peter-Paul Verbeek (University of Twente). ‘This response implies that the total effort is many times greater, since only one or two teams could be nominated by each faculty and, on top of that, many scientists work on science communication individually.’
The projects cover a wide range of topics, from women’s history and Dutch literature to artificial intelligence and astronomy. The science communication activities are also very diverse, from books and comics to blogs, videos and podcasts.
To maximise the response to the fund’s one-off incentive, apply the lessons learned through the fund directly, and draw on the experience that the various faculties around the country have gained with many different forms of science communication, a supplementary programme is being organised on the theme ‘Science communication by scientists’. An extensive programme of activities will follow in 2021 and 2022 that will focus on knowledge-sharing, training in public engagement, an impact study by the Athena Institute (VU Amsterdam), a closing conference, and a final report offering guidelines to help knowledge institutions appreciate and facilitate science communication by scientists. The Academy is developing and will carry out the programme in cooperation with Samenweten (in Dutch).
Appreciated! is meant for ongoing science communication projects being carried out by teams of scientists. A total of 96 applications have been submitted by 62 faculties, with all Dutch universities participating. Of these, 91 have been awarded funding. Each team has received € 10,000. See the Academy website for a list of the award recipients. The Appreciated! fund is in line with the new approach to recognising and rewarding scientists that was recently introduced in the Dutch knowledge sector. The fund was set up by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and is being administered by the Academy.