Euroscience Open Forum 2018

Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) is to scientists with interdisciplinary interest what birthdays are for kids. Except birthdays take place every year, while we have to wait for two long years before we get our ESOF again.

After SciDF’s first ESOF experience in 2016 in Manchester, we happily returned in July 2018 to Toulouse to learn about the newest advancements in science policy, capacity building, science communication, scientific advice, etc., but also to contribute to this year’s conference.

For one week, ESOF brings together thousands of extremely interesting and engaged professionals. Policy makers, science educators, science communicators, journalists, academic researchers, science advisors, entrepreneurs and many more, all gathered in one place to share their work during one of the many sessions. But another delightful aspect of ESOF is that you get many coffee breaks and social events to randomly bump into those people and learn about their motivations and actions and enjoy the general positive atmosphere and enthusiasm.

SciDF had the pleasure to organise and lead the session with the title ‘How to Lobby for Science’. Much of what is happening on the political agenda affects directly or indirectly the scientific sector. However, scientists are usually poorly represented in parliaments and science advisory mechanisms have lot of room for improvement. Somebody has thus to take a stand for science and represent the position of the scientific sector: the lobbyists for science! For the purpose of this session we invited following speakers for the panel.

  • Sofie Vanthournout from Sense about Science EU, an organisation which strongly promotes evidence in policy making and has lead various workshops on how to stand up for science.
  • Mike Galsworthy from Scientists for EU (UK), who leads the campaign by UK scientists to keep the UK in the EU.
  • Jan Palmowski from The Guild, which represents nineteen European research-intensive universities in fourteen countries and is dedicated to enhancing the voice of academic institutions, their researchers and their students.
  • Yoran Beldengrün from SciDF (Spain), which gave a voice to science during the Catalan independence referendum and the subsequent political events. We also mobilised the scientific community in Barcelona for the March for Science.
Laurent Ladepêche, Alicia Perez and Yoran Beldengrün next to the SciDF’s poster

The four organisations shared their perspectives and experiences on lobbying both policy makers and the general public in order to allow scientific evidence and the scientific sector as a whole to gain visibility and trust. The session fell upon huge interest, filling the seminar room down to the last sitting space, floor included. The audience could also share their opinion by raising coloured cards in response to multiple-choice questions the panel asked them.

Amongst current socio-political developments, it is understandable that scientists need to stand up together for science, which has been clearly demonstrated in 2017 with the tremendous mobilisation of scientists for the March for Science.

SciDF did not only organise a session, but were also present at the poster exhibition, where we presented our new poster, which summarises the achievements of SciDF in the past two years. Laurent Ladepêche and Alicia Perez (SciDF), were also present at this year’s ESOF. Together we had an excellent week, not to forget of course the ESOF party, which took place at the open air City of Space of Toulouse.

Yoran Beldengrün
Laurent Ladepêche