A PERSPECTIVE REVIEW on how to better reach and engage with EXCLUDED communities

Where are we today when it comes to engaging excluded communities, often referred to as “underserved”, “underprivileged” or “marginalized”?

This timely question is the topic of “Engaging the Excluded”, a perspective review mapping out the current state of inclusive Science Engagement in academic debates and through five exemplary case-studies. This publication, commissioned by Falling Walls Engage, was developed and written by Rokia Ballo, researcher in Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the University College London (UCL).

To accompany the launch of the review, we have produced “Engaging the Excluded”, a short film and resource for practitioners presenting key learnings and featuring the five projects cited in the review (see below). 

Following a launch webinar in August 2021 with Rokia Ballo, we brought this discussion to Berlin Science Week 2021 during online webinar to discuss key learnings and challenges around inclusion. Both events provided a space for participants to exchange and engage with some of the contributors involved in the review.




The need for scientists to effectively communicate and engage the public with science has never been clearer. However, ensuring communication and engagement are delivered equitably remains a challenge for practitioners.

This perspective review begins by revisiting some of the history of public engagement and science communication, to offer a contextual understanding of where we are today and how the relationship between science and society has changed over time. This initial overview illustrates that historic global inequalities are embedded in and continue to influence modern science, meaning that many communities remain excluded from the construction, communication and use of scientific knowledge.

The literature suggests that despite calls to democratise science and much theorising on how this might be achieved from those within science communication and public engagement, in practice their activities are often criticized for reinforcing patterns of exclusion found in wider society which particularly impact marginalized groups at risk of other forms of social exclusion.

However, as the world continues to turn its attention to issues of inequality, so has the scientific community, with many already attempting to break down barriers to accessing science and foster inclusive engagement. This review concludes by providing examples of how inclusive practice is being employed across a range of geographies and cultural contexts: sharing key learnings from each to suggest how we might better engage the excluded with science moving forward.




ROKIA BALLO - University College London

Rokia Ballo is the author of the Perspective Review ‘Engaging the Excluded’. Rokia is a Science and Technology Studies (STS) researcher whose work focuses on the ways science for policy, science advisory systems and politics intersect with social inequality. She recently completed her MSc in STS at University College London (UCL) and won both the STS course prize and Kathleen Lonsdale dissertation prize. She will begin her PhD at UCL’s STS department this autumn. Rokia is also interested in inclusive practice within science communication. She is Co-Chair of Science London (nominated for an ITV National Diversity Award 2021) who deliver workshops and resources for scientists and communicators to employ equitable practice in their work. She is committed to developing polyvocal and decolonial narratives of science that take us beyond academic institutions and centre equity and social justice.

Mohamed Daoud - The Fun Lab

Mohamed Daoud is a science communication officer at the American University in Cairo, where he implements different science communication projects. Mohamed achieved his master’s degree in science communication from the University of Manchester in 2018 through the prestigious UK Government Chevening Scholarship. Mohamed participated in many local and global science festivals and events. He is also one of Egypt’s top 10 Science Communicators according to FameLab competition.

Find out more about The Fun Lab in this video.


Chandrakant Redican (He/Him) is a Science Communicator, Educator and Spoken Word Poet. He currently oversees Outreach and Communications Efforts at the National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore. He co-organized the International Science and Poetry Cafe and is the Co-Founder of Bullock Cart Poetry through which he has organized over 200 poetry events. He has over 10 years of experience teaching science in Rural India and is currently working on a project that aims to bring Science Communication to Spiritual Places in India using poetry.

Ethnically Chandrakant is half Irish-Canadian from his father’s side and Half Maharashtrian Dalit on his mother’s side. Dalits are the untouchable lower caste communities in India which have suffered from lack of opportunity and systematic oppression for centuries to this day. Growing up in a village in rural India within this community has greatly shaped Chandrakant’s perspective. As an empowered member of the community who has a voice and the privilege of education, Chandrakant aims to create sci-comm spaces where more people from historically oppressed minorities can assert themselves, voice their opinions and are empowered to take up careers in science.

You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at the handle @poetryisprotest.


Maria Vicente is the international Project Manager of the H2020 Open Science Hub project at Leiden University, that comprises nine European partners. Maria holds a PhD in Neuroscience and was responsible for the Science Education programme at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisbon, Portugal. Since 2017, she has also been the Scientific Coordinator of Plataforma de Ciência Aberta, a social innovation program of the Municipality of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Portugal, aimed at bringing together research and innovation with the daily-life of local communities, as tools to tackle local relevant challenges.

Find out more about Open Science Hub Portugal on opensciencehub.net and on the Portuguese website “Plataforma de Ciência Aberta”.


Saeeda Bhatti has several years experience working in science communication and as a STEM Ambassador and is passionate about taking science out to her local community. Saeeda is a member of the teaching staff in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing at the University of Glasgow and implemented a series of innovative and ambitious public engagement and science communication events in conjunction with local primary schools in the Gorbals, promoting STEM engagement in areas with traditionally low participation. In December 2017, Saeeda won the University of Glasgow Knowledge and Exchange Award for best Community Public Engagement Initiative as a result of her recent work in this area. She was also a finalist for the Herald Higher Education award for community outreach in 2019.

Find out more about  STEM in the Gorbals in this impact study and this newsletter on the University of Glasgow’s website. You can also listen to the podcast of STEM in the Gorbals here. 

NICOLAS BONNE - Tactile Universe

Nicolas Bonne is a vision impaired astronomer and science communicator at the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation. He leads the Tactile Universe public engagement project, which is developing free 3D printable resources to help vision impaired people (particularly students) engage with current topics in astronomy research. He also works as consultant and adviser with groups both nationally and internationally to develop methods of communicating their science in more accessible ways. Nicolas Bonne has been awarded the Breakthrough of the Year in Science Engagement at Falling Walls in 2020.

Find out more about Tactile Universe in this video.

More Pages