Vienna Conference - September 2014

Visionary or Fantasy?


Creating open spaces for science communication and social inclusion.


10th -12th September 2014, Vienna, Austria


This September, we held our eighth and final conference in Vienna, Austria. It was a shared conference with EUCU.NET, and looked at how children’s universities and science communication organisations can contribute to the social inclusion agenda. Children’s Universities and related organisations have been identified as potential change models for the education system. They are capable of influencing informed decisions about science in general and about continuing education and careers in science and research in the longer run.

There seems to be a growing understanding that SiS initiatives must be accessible for all society members to have sustainable effect and not just preferred groups. As a consequence an increasing number of SiS organisers have started to develop programmes for specific audiences, or tried to include a wider range of participants with their existing projects – and made this an overriding aim.

But how do we interact with those who are actually participating? Who are the ones reached by such programmes in practice and what do organisers need to know about the social environment around them? What is their impact, and how does this relate to the current concepts and definitions of “inclusion” and “minority”?

We also considered ethical and organisational implications: When we open up spaces and enable non-traditional audiences to participate, how can SiS organisers help to keep these doors open? In the long run, how can the concept of “inclusion” and the engagement with children and young people contribute to a transformation of science institutions, so that we are not setting young people up for disappointment?