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DF2021: the importance of personal encounters

Participants at the 2021 Directors Forum at La Cité des sciences et de l'industrie. ©Ph. Levy

The power of personal encounters

Participants to the 2021 Directors Forum, hosted by La Cité des sciences et de l'industrie in Paris, have spent two days together in a joyful, meaningful and powerful series of talks, discussions and meetings.

The event started with a welcome from Ecsite President Bruno Maquart, addressing the 60+ members of senior management with warm words, "Thank you for being here with us - still with a mask - but in the flesh. We have most certainly changed a lot in the last 18 months. As a community we shared resources, we pooled our thoughts and best practices. It is a good insight into what Ecsite is; able to use its diversity as its strength." Ecsite Executive Director Catherine Franche gave an emotional welcome and thank you to those attending (from 17 different countries), "It's so good to see you here. I want to thank you, the members of Ecsite, who make all of this possible."

Ecsite Events Manager Wiktor Gajewski then kicked off proceedings with a networking moment - where participants openly shared their proud moments and things they would not repeat in any potential future pandemic situations. After a 'family' photo (pictured), it was time for lunch before the afternoon sessions began.

During the afternoon, convenors Raphael Dupin, Antonio Gomes da Costa, Michèle Antoine and Francis Duranthon discussed various elements of the pandemic, with overarching themes of whether science communication failed during the pandemic and how we can use the pandemic to help reshape and reinvent our organisations' governance. Participants raised questions and debated over whether their institutions had been daring/controversial, whether it was their duty to stay neutral and collaborated to think of many ways in which they could work better to reshape their organisations, coming up with three top ideas on ways to reinvent:

  • Take more risks - don't hide behind neutrality
  • Take care of our teams and organisations
  • Strive to be part of the solution (not the crisis)

The evening gave attendees the opportunity to visit many of Universcience's exhibitions, including the Jeans exhibition (check out pictures in our Spokes portfolio) before heading to dinner.

Day two was a morning of stimulating and thought-provoking discussion with Ulrike Kastrup (focusTerra) and Bruno David (National Museum of Natural History) on tackling the climate and biodiversity crises; exploring what it means to be human and the impact of humans on our planet (and potential future planets!). Following a short break, attendees were then transported using the power of technology to Glasgow, and the New York Times Climate Hub, where The New York Times' Stephen Dunbar-Johnson and the Natural History Museum's Clare Matterson CBE explained their serendipitous and important collaborative work, not only during COP26, but long term. They then answered questions from an engaged audience.

Finally, the #ecsite2022 hosts experimenta gave participants an overview of their plans for the 2022 Ecsite Conference, as well as a time-lapse tour of the city by bicycle!

Bruno Maquart closed the two-day event with a heartfelt thank you and words of hope to be reunited soon.

Thank you to the Universcience and Cité des sciences teams, and to all those involved in the 2021 Directors Forum, and to those members who made the event so enjoyable and worthwhile.


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Director's forum