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Engaging society as climate science 
Jaron Harambam (University of Amsterdam)
Willemine Willems (VU)
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Combined Format Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Moving beyond the traditional role of (climate) science as the detached and neutral conveyer of knowledge, this panel explores the work of scholars seeking novel ways of engaging society around climate change research. We welcome all kinds of novel transformative approaches.

Long Abstract:

While the urgency of the climate crisis increases, and climate science puts forward alarming reports, some citizens question the relevance and trustworthiness of their knowledge more and more. They may feel like the academic world is too far removed from their daily lives, that it invents solutions that benefit the already advantaged, or that it has too close ties with vested interests which corrupts their operations. Scholars working on climate change (in the broadest sense), in the meantime, experience despair because the general public needs to be taken along if any robust change is to be expected.

The conventional role of science as the detached producer of objective knowledge no longer fits when dealing with complex social-scientific crises – such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the climate crisis. More people understand science as societally situated, and scientists themselves increasingly feel uncomfortable with that old ideal. The same goes for the associated, traditional form of science communication, which often assumes a lack of knowledge or understanding among the general public as the main problem, and finds solutions in explaining science more. This approach falls short in restoring trust and reducing polarisation and sometimes even achieves the opposite.

In this combined panel, we welcome scholars who are working on new forms of science communication and/or societal engagement around climate research. These transformative approaches may take many forms: from social media campaigns to citizen assemblies, and from virtual reality simulations to taking part in societal activism. The key objective must fall within the broad category of improving the strained relations between science and society in the context of the climate crisis by engaging citizens and scholars in new constellations.

We welcome research papers, but also those taking part of a discussion panel (dialogue sessions) to speak about their experiences participating in such projects.

Accepted contributions: