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Highlights from the 2017 Directors Forum

Group photo 2017 Ecsite Directors Forum, Cite des sciences et de l'industrie, Paris, France, 6 October 2017. ® N Breton EPPDCSI
Terra Data exhibition tour, Ecsite Directors Forum, 4 October 2017. © V Viennet EPPDCSITesting an augmented reality app in the Valerian and Laureline exhibition as part of the 2017 Ecsite Directors Forum, Cite des sciences et de l'industrie, Paris, France, 4 October. © V Viennet EPPDCSI Dinner at Cite des sciences et de l'industrie, Ecsite Directors Forum, 4 October 2017. © V Viennet EPPDCSI Milad Doueihi keynote speech at Ecsite Directors Forum, 5 October 2017. © N Breton EPPDCSI Marie-Paule Cani keynote speech at Ecsite Directors Forum, 5 October 2017. © N Breton EPPDCSIThe body in the digital age museum parallel workshop, Ecsite Directors Forum, 5 October 2017. © N Breton EPPDCSI

Universcience hosted the 2017 Ecsite Directors Forum at Cité des sciences de l'industrie in Paris, France, on 4-6 October 2017. 70+ Senior Managers of Ecsite Full member organisations go together, making it the largest Directors Forum to date. The event took place as part of Universcience's celebrations of two anniversaries: the 30th of Cité des sciences et de l'industrie and the 80th of Palais de la Découverte.

A warm thank you to the Universcience team for the superb welcome they gave attendees, with high-level and well balanced keynotes, stimulating workshops and a spotless social programme.


Browse through the pictures, check out the programme, get a glimpse of social media activity on Twitter and enjoy this summary of events.

Save the date: Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona and Barcelona Ciència – Institut de Cultura de Barcelona will the host of the next Directors Forum, to be held on 14-16 November 2018. The topic will be Open science and the role of science engagement organisations can play in it.


Wednesday 4 October

The Forum started on Wednesday 4 October in the late afternoon. Universcience President Bruno Maquart and Ecsite President Herbert Münder opened the show, before six Ecsite members presented case studies on the theme: "Science engagement and digital media: meant to be?"

Attendees then enjoyed a digitally-themed tour of Cité des sciences et de l'industrie, checking out the library, StudioLego, Maker Space, planetarium and three temporary exhibitions: C3rv3au (on the brain), Valerian et Laureline (and its AR app) and Terra Data (on big data). Dinner took place in the impressive setting of Cité's Explora hall.


Thursday 5 October

On the next morning, two thought-provoking keynotes awaited participants.

First, Milad Doueihi, American cultural and intellectual historian and Professor of Digital Humanities at Paris-Sorbonne University, and specialist of digital culture for having theorized "digital humanism", highlighting the human dimension of digital technology. In his rich speech, Doueihi examined materialism, ethics, sovereignty and territoriality in the digital age. Among many other points, he underlined the ubiquity of maritime metaphors in the Internet sphere and compared the challenge of agreeing on and enforcing rules on the web to the question of high sea jurisdiction.

Marie-Paule Cani, Professor of Computer Science at Ecole Polytechnique, delivered the second speech, demonstrating what she calls "expressive 3D modelling". The aim of her research is to design animation tools that allow non-expert users to shape virtual worlds, overcoming current challenges like indirect creation pipeline and lack of embodiment. For an hour, she put flying dragons and virtual mountain ranges at our finger tips, concluding: "give users the control, and leave the constraints to the machine".

After lunch, participants could choose between two workshops organised by the winners of the 2017 Mariano Gago Ecsite Awards.

Dialogue Social Enterprise, winner of the 'Sustainable Success' award, invited us to a one hour "darkshop", offering parts of a leadership programme developed by the team behind the famous Dialogue in the Dark experience. Participants were challenged to solve tasks in total darkness under the guidance of a blind facilitator.

TRACES – ESPGG, winner of the 'Smart and Simple' Award, offered an agile workshop based on their experience of developing the forum-exhibition "Science frugale". The following proposition was explored: science centres today should not be seen just as public engagement devices, but as research facilities to explore those areas of scientific research that can truly benefit from social, artistic, cultural, political ‘perturbations’.

Four parallel workshops concluded the afternoon, allowing in-depth peer exchange: "Digital technology as a tool for interpretation", "Digital Gender Gap", "The body in a museum of the digital age" and "How does artificial intelligence affect our jobs?"

In the evening we enjoyed a behind the scenes tour at the stunning Philharmonie de Paris building just across the park from Cité des sciences et de l'industrie. The Philharmonie staff revealed the secrets of the building's exceptional acoustics and striking architecture and walked us through practice rooms and the scores library. As a perfect conclusion to the day, participants sat back and enjoyed a concert with pieces by Nielsen, Bjarnason, Prokofiev and Rachmaninov.


Friday 6 October

The next morning was dedicated to network-wide challenges and Ecsite governance.

Under the title "Don´t blame the others - Peer discussions on how our institutions practice and promote social inclusion, equity and diversity", a group of managers from the Ecsite community shared the ongoing efforts of their international working group, currently devising a "social inclusion and diversity framework". Attendees were invited to use a self-assessment tool, reflecting on personal, institutional and field-wide awareness and practice of social inclusion, equity and diversity.

Finally, the Ecsite Board invited us to reflect on post-truth and how this new context affects our organisations' mission. Post-truth, by its own nature, is anti science. Attendees addressed the following questions: Are science centres and museums adjusting themselves to this reality? Does it change the way we see our mission? Are there already concrete examples of effective practices?

After lunch we were invited to the launch of the week-long national celebration "Fête de la science", in the presence of French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation Frédérique Vidal.


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Director's forum