Public trust and involvement in science plays a central role in addressing global challenges, achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and contributing to the overall wellbeing of society. This Falling Walls Circle Round Table debates how we can use Co-Creative Approaches to foster Science Engagement initiatives that aim to tackle said challenges and can contribute to a greater societal impact.

As Tina Stengele says, Science Engagement essentially faces two basic challenges: funding and recognition. To tackle funding, it is important to create powerful relationships and platforms, connecting science with institutions, politics and the private sector. “The demand for participatory science will grow”, Stengele says, and that presents a huge opportunity for Co-Creative Approaches on a global scale. Some programs, such as Falling Walls Engage and the International Year of Science Engagement, already show great potential in this regard.

Science Engagement from the bottom up

At the same time, scientists themselves need to take scientific communications seriously, Nick Ishmael-Perkins argues. This includes changing the narrative on how science works – stepping back from the notion of a “hero scientist” and towards more cooperation and communication, towards different expertise and perspectives.

Speaking of perspectives, the panel agrees that a Co-Creative Approach is especially suited to reach communities that traditionally do not have access to academia: “We need to bring in existing expertise in the communities who are not scientists in the traditional sense”, says Kari Mugo, switching to “Science Engagement from the bottom-up instead of top-down”. The access and understanding of science should be available to all, because if people turn away from rational based values, this may become a threat to democracy.