issue 5, year 3

Spotlight: dissemination & networking

Should scientists be better communicators?

Mai Beilmann from the University of Tartu writes about an international workshop on “How social sciences create value for policy and society” that was organized by the project DANDELION and held in mid-October last year in Tallinn, Estonia.
Mai Beilmann

University of Tartu

The Tallinn workshop in 2017 was meant to be a side event of the conference “European Research Excellence – Impact and Value for Society” and was organised in the framework of the Estonian EU Presidency. The event brought together 32 participants from research, policy and civil society from all over Europe.
In the DANDELION workshop, me as a representative from CATCH-EyoU team and Rowena Merritt and Olena Nizalova from the University of Kent, representing another Horizon2020 project called EXCEPT shared valuable lessons about dissemination activities in our projects. We showcased “what works and what not” in practice in terms of research transfer to societal stakeholders.
The researchers in audience approved that not only success stories but also failures were brought out and discussed because it helped to highlight that the growing amount of dissemination activities puts new kind of pressures and challenges on the shoulders of researchers.
We shared the stage with non-academic stakeholders who share similar challenges when reaching out for wider audiences. Paavo Palk from the Estonian Representation at the European Commission and Maarja-Leena Saar from the Citizen Initiative Portal shared their experiences about organising the communication at EU and national level. They described their lessons from engaging citizens, in particular young citizens, with the help of e-participation tools.
In the roundtable discussion, moderated by Georgios Kolliarakis from the University of Frankfurt, the abovementioned speakers and Robert Miscuf, representing DANDELION project, focused on the factors which enable the readiness of research to deliver impact, which barriers need to be overcome, and finally – when, how and whom to engage within the research process, in order to generate value for policy and society.
All participants agreed that dissemination is a crucial part of social sciences and humanities research. Nevertheless, they also acknowledged that the expectation of academics to develop and sustain their excellence in research and simultaneously play a role of an efficient lobbyist, a good journalist or a successful YouTuber may be somewhat exaggerated. Instead, engaging (at least sometimes) media and communication professionals would be a better idea and can help the scientific results of various projects to become much more visible in public discourse and easily understood by people outside the academic world.
The project DANDELION aims to support the uptake of research and promote EU funded projects of inclusive, innovative and reflective societies. For improving dissemination of scientific work towards citizens, policy makers, academia and media, they arrange various innovative and creative communication activities and workshops, in order to target a range of audiences.

CATCH-EyoU at COMEM 2017

CASCAIS, November 2017
From the 24th to the 25th of November, the European Youth Forum held its Council of Members (COMEM) in the European Youth Capital for 2018, Cascais. The COMEM is a unique gathering of more than 150 delegates representing youth organisations from across Europe. During the meetings, members of the European Youth Forum have usually the opportunity to discuss key topics, participate in debates and hear important updates on the work and progress of the European Youth Forum. During the COMEM European Youth Forum members are invited to showcase their innovative projects and ideas during “Made in MOs” sessions, aimed at sharing best practices and also at giving input to the work of the European Youth Forum.
CATCH-EyoU consortium, thanks to the engagement of FNG (Italian Youth Forum) had the opportunity to give an “open talk” on the results of the project. The aim of the talk was to share some key findings of the CATCH-EyoU project and discuss them with COMEM’s participants in light of their experience as representative of youth organizations and as young active people in the EU. Another aim of the open talk was to exchange and discuss good practices in order to promote youth active citizenship. 30 participants attended the open talk and were stimulated and challenged by some of our key findings, in particular on the role of school and the role of youth organizations. Some key points of discussion were how to find strategic ways to make youth-entities like “European youth forum” more accessible and transparent for young people, and how to make sure that that the youth active citizenship will still be in the focus after the 2019 EU elections. Youth representatives suggested to promote Facebook live talks with politicians and to differentiate and innovate the ways to promote civic education in schools. One suggestion was to set up initiatives for young people to participate in the democratic process, both inside and outside school and engage young people in local politics, asking for example young people to produce, local youth recommendations for local political parties, support systematic consultation of young people and ask local authorities to develop Municipal youth plans.

CATCH-EyoU at the Euth open summit 2017

Berlin, December 7-8
The Open Summit was the final event of the project “EUth - Tools and Tips for Mobile and Digital Youth Participation in and across Europe”. The aim of EUth is to get more young people involved in political decision-making and increase their trust in European political institutions.
The solution has been created within the EUth project: OPIN, an all-in-one proven digital and mobile participation toolbox. The youth eParticipation toolbox OPIN combines a multilingual online-platform with a mobile application. The features of OPIN help consulting youth during agenda-setting or idea collection, enable to collectively draft, comment and vote on proposals or position papers. Additionally, the platform offers a mapping tool and is connected to a mobile polling tool that facilitates reaching youngsters within a certain geographical area.
Throughout the project, the experiences in the field of youth eParticipation have been collected, researched and transformed into practical tips and guidelines for successful eParticipation processes which are now available on the platform. The project follows a “design by participation” approach: pilot programmes in different contexts have been testing OPIN and providing feedback for improvements in one of three launches of the toolbox. 10 new pilots have started using OPIN in 2017 and are striving to enrich good practices in digital youth engagement.
During the summit, the CATCH-EyoU representative, Davide Mazzoni (University of Bologna) took part into a panel discussion (moderator: Hans-Liudger Dienel, Nexus Institute) about recommendation for improving the toolbox. Other participants of the panel were Ellen Durst (European Commission), Raul Broto Cervera (Mollet del Valles municipality) and Yannick Furgal (Paris city youth council). The summit represented a great opportunity for networking with another important EU project and for illustrating the contribution that CATCH-EyoU project can give to digital youth participation.
The project “EUth - Tools and Tips for Mobile and Digital Youth Participation in and across Europe” has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 649594. The project coordinator is Nexus Institute for Cooperation Management and Interdisciplinary Research (Germany).
More on the project, its partners and blog on project progress:

Conference in Porto

Conference and Seminar for the representations of the youth active EU citizenship in educational context. Findings and outlook.

Carla Malafaia

On February 15, a Conference titled “The construction of the active citizenship of European young people: contributions for a discussion grounded on practices and policies” took place at the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences (University of Porto). This Conference gathered youth stakeholders and members of the European Parliament around a common aim: to discuss the international results that emerged from the WP6, focused on the representations of the EU and youth active EU citizenship in educational contexts. In the Opening Session, conducted by Isabel Menezes (CIIE/FPCE.UP), José Alberto Correia (Director of FPCE.UP) and Lorenzo Floresta (IYP), the scope and breadth of the Project were introduced. In the first panel, the results from the 3-level analysis (textbooks’ analysis, interviews with teachers and focus groups with students) were presented by Carla Malafaia (CIIE/FPCE.UP) and the respective recommendations from the International Youth Panel were highlighted by Lorenzo Floresta (IYP). The discussion about the practical and political implications of such results took place in the two subsequent panels: 1) a roundtable with representatives of four youth organisations (National Federation of Associations of Basic and Secondary Education; National Youth Council; Platform Reset; National Federation of Youth Associations) to discuss the role of civil society organisations in promoting youth citizenship; 2) a symposium with two Portuguese Members of the European Parliament, Marisa Matias and Carlos Coelho, whose interventions were grounded on the contributions of CATCH-EyoU in terms of political structures and opportunities.
On February 20, in the same Faculty, a Seminar was held titled “The role of schools in promoting the active citizenship of European young people: teachers and students’ perspectives”. The Opening Session was conducted by Isabel Menezes (CIIE/FPCE.UP), José Alberto Correia (Director of FPCE.UP) and Sara Lopes (IYP), followed by a first panel dedicated to the presentation of the main results from the analysis of the Portuguese textbooks by Norberto Ribeiro (CIIE/FPCE.UP) and from the analysis of the interviews with teachers and the focus group discussions with students, by Filipe Piedade (CIIE/FPCE.UP) – Luís Grosso Correia (CIIE/FL.UP) and Carla Malafaia (CIIE/ FPCE.UP) chaired this panel. Based on these results, a roundtable was set up with four students who participated in the focus groups carried out in the study, representing the four schools that collaborated in the data collection in Portugal. The students’ comments on the results were moderated by two teachers, also from the participating schools (a History teacher and a School Principal). This discussion was then integrated in the final panel, chaired by Manuel Loff (FL.UP) and Sara Lopes (IYP), in which the Secretary of State of Education, João Costa, drew some considerations about the implications of CATCH-EyoU in terms of educational policies.
More than one hundred people participated in both the events, which were covered by local and national media, including widely-read Portuguese journals. One of the Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Marisa Matias, stressed the importance of promoting European citizenship, once “we are going through major transformations that motivate the reconfiguration of political structures”. About the shortcomings in the role of schools in fostering experiences to learn and practice citizenship (in- and outside the classroom), Carlos Coelho (MEP) stated the importance of “bringing citizenship into the school, of educating for participation”, acknowledging that “it lacked the capacity of reaching a consensus on what is fundamental learning”. The young students present in the Seminar also unanimously underlined that “schools have to create conditions for young people to be willing to participate”, fostering critical debate about central, political issues more than conveying “team-building type discourses” – as stated by one student referring to the motivational speeches that often go along with the preparation for the exams. Based on the students’ discussions, João Costa, the Secretary of State of Education, recognised that evaluation should not guide the school practices and the political role of school should be openly assumed, given that “an education project is always an ideological project; to pretend that it is not is the most dangerous thing to do”.
Calling the attention to initiatives aiming to connect schools and communities, Hugo Carvalho, president of the National Youth Council, mentioned the importance of local projects such as the participatory budget, “in which schools promote the election of a representative to execute a budget”, highlighting that “democracy and citizenship are to be experienced, they can not be learned only in books”. The same youth representative also noted that “plenty of youngsters commented on Brexit, plenty of youngsters commented on the election of Trump; we are increasingly away from traditional politics but we are attentive”. In fact, young people often play the role of “the poor relation of the State budget”, as stated by Tiago Manuel Rego, the representative of the National Federation of Youth Associations; this requires an ongoing effort to inscribe youth agendas in the policy-making sphere.

CATCH-EyoU has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement n. 649538