PLACES

The PLACES project, led by Ecsite, is expanding as cities such as Haifa, Seville, Bordeaux, Bucharest and others board the PLACES train to voluntarily form City Partnerships between science communication institutions and local policy makers. Our collective destination? The European City of Scientific Culture.

City Partnerships with similar thematic interests are connecting through the project’s many networking opportunities including workshops, annual conferences and the online PLACES OPEN platform. You will read about these and other opportunities in Foundations. PLACES is presently reaching out to other EU-level projects and initiatives that can help our project broaden its reach. If you want to create a linkage with PLACES, please get in touch!

By spring 2014, PLACES will have generated powerful instruments and informed recommendations for developing European Cities of Scientific Culture. Join us and put your city on the PLACES map.

Why PLACES?

Contemporary societies rely on science and technology for economic growth, political stability, social well-being and progress. Science influences everything we do as human beings. Yet, the interaction between science, politics and citizens is frequently insufficient and sometimes non-existent.

Policymakers must be able to easily gather scientific information they need to make informed decisions. Citizens need to understand how science and society are linked and be able to provide input in science-related decisions. There must also be dialogue between citizens, scientists and politicians to fully grasp the personal and social behavioral changes required for living in the 21st Century.

Environmental sustainability, ageing populations, healthcare, social security, drinking water, agriculture, biodiversity, transportation, clean energy, education policies, innovation for economic growth – this is only a snapshot of the topics inextricably linking science to society.

It is time to enhance the three-way conversation between science, policymakers and society in Europe. PLACES is the facilitator of this conversation.

The process

1. City Partnerships will foster functional interactions between local stakeholders on the issue of science communication policy.
City Partnerships arise from science communication institutions forming alliances with local policymakers. This cooperative relationship will yield effective and targeted approaches to science communication policy in European cities and regions.

City Partnerships will also grow to involve media, non-governmental organizations, universities, research institutions, companies, and more.

2. Local Action Plans (LAPs) will target key challenges in cities based on scientific problem-solving.
A Local Action Plan is a strategy to tackle science and technology-related issues at the city and regional levels. LAPs evolve from the work done by City Partnerships.

An LAP is a long-term (five to ten year) strategic vision that should incorporate multiculturalism, social inclusion and gender issues. Most importantly, LAPs must focus on science communication policies, rather than science communication activities.

3. Pilot Activities will test innovative approaches to communicate science-based solutions in cities.
Pilot Activities will arise from Local Action Plans to address controversial or problematic local issues in a way that actively involves citizens.

5. Annual Conferences, Science Cities Workshops, training opportunities and Thematic Working Groups will bring PLACES stakeholders together in a united effort.

• Annual conferences:
Year 1: featured a political symposium;
Year 2: creative workshops with recommendations for Pilot Activities and a focus on gauging science communicators’ expectations;
Year 3: practical guidance about implementing science communication policies.
Year 4: The final conference will present the main outcomes and recommendations of PLACES.

• Science Cities Workshops:
Forums for discussing the development of local science communication policies.
• Training workshops:
Sessions aimed at all civil servants from all levels who want to learn how to incorporate science communication into their work.

5. It all comes together at the PLACES OPEN web platform (www.openplaces.eu) –the workspace where all parties gather to plan, develop and exchange.

The PLACES OPEN web platform is a meeting place for people working on PLACES and a “science in society” resource centre. The OPEN platform is just that –open. It’s for people from any number of projects or networks who have something to contribute to PLACES.

6. Surveys, reports and assessments will document European realities of how local actors and science interact and yield recommendations for future policies.
This wealth of data about science communication policies, science communication actors, impact assessment of these and associated policies will be synthesized into reports containing recommendations.

7. PLACES will conclude in 2014 with local and EU-level blueprints for how to build European Cities of Scientific Culture.

The actors

The project is coordinated by Ecsite, European network of science centres and museums (www.ecsite.eu), a 20-year-old organization linking science communication professionals in more than 400 institutions in 50 countries. Ecsite connects member institutions through projects and activities and facilitates the exchange of ideas and best practice on current issues.

PLACES project leaders include:

1. European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN, www.errin.eu) is a network of more than 90 European regions which
facilitates knowledge exchange, joint action and project partnerships between its members with the aim of strengthening their region’s research and innovation capacities. ERRIN also aspires to influence EU policies in order to make them respond better to the needs of European regions.

2. European Science Events Association (EUSCEA, www.euscea.org) is the one and only platform to exchange experiences about the organisation of informal science learning events in Europe. Science Communication Events are a major means of stimulating science interests among youth, of inspiring dialogue and creating a basis for future European competitiveness.

3. The Observatory of Science Communication –Universitat Pompeu Fabra (www.occ.upf.edu) is a special research centre studying the various stages of the process of conveying scientific and technological knowledge to society and analysing the relationship between science, media and society. The centre was formed in 1994 with a commitment to being at the forefront of research, teaching and knowledge transfer in the study and analysis of processes involved in the transmission of scientific, medical and technical knowledge to society.

Who is involved?

Sixty-nine science communication institutions ten European regions are currently involved in PLACES.

Who can join?

Any science communication institution can establish a City Partnership, register in the PLACES OPEN platform and contribute to the PLACES community.

PLACES is coordinated by Ecsite: European network of science centres and museums. Work is lead by Ecsite, ERRIN (European Regions Research and Innovation Network) EUSCEA (European Science Events Association) and OCCIM – Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

Full list of project partners: 

Ecsite (www.ecsite.eu) – Coordinator
Eusea (www.euscea.org)
ERRIN (www.errin.eu)
UPF (www.occ.upf.edu)