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Sharing Space: creative collaboration for public engagement with cutting-edge astronomy

November 2021 - December 2021
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Many astronomers and science communicators are familiar with communicating the wonder of the solar system, or missions to Mars. However, cutting-edge astronomical research such as the search for dark energy, or gravitational waves, while showing up in press releases, is much less common in the public engagement of science and technology.

This Workroom was aimed at two distinct groups of experts who will work together - early-career researchers in any discipline related to astronomy or space science, as well as science engagement professionals without an astronomy background. The series took a design thinking approach to explore the challenge of “How might we engage the public in a discussion about cutting-edge astronomy and space science research?”

This Workroom series has now ended.

Through guided exercises, mixed groups worked to develop a shared understanding of their distinct sectors and to develop a topic of their choosing into a proposal for an inclusive public engagement initiative. A key goal was to communicate not only the scientific findings but also the complexities, challenges and ethical considerations surrounding the research topic.

Over the course of the four sessions, inspiration was provided through a mix of formats. Case studies included installations developed through collaborations between artists and astronomers, as well as global examples of inclusive public communication of astronomy and space science to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

The keynote speakers during the series were:

Week one - Dr. Gaitee Hussain of the European Space Agency and Dr. Kelly Blumenthal (Leiden University/International Astronomical Union)

Week two - Professor Travis Rector (University of Alaska), Violette Impellizzeri & Sanne van Gammeren (Leiden University) and Cecilia Scorza (University of München)

Week three - Professor Henk Hoekstra (Leiden University) and Thijs Biersteker (Woven Studio)

Week four - Jen Wong (Guerilla Science) and Ewine van Dishoeck (Leiden University)

The Ecsite Workroom “Sharing Space: Creative collaboration for public engagement with cutting-edge astronomy” is co-organised with the International Astronomical Union, Trinity College Dublin and Leiden University and funded by The Kavli Prize, supported by Leiden 2022: European City of Science.


  • Ecsite Workroom
  • sharing space


Member of the Board of Directors of Ciência Viva /University Professor Astronomy & Society


This Workroom is now full, but you can still be added to the waiting list by clicking the button below.