Public engagement involves the public and all so-called ‘relevant knowledge actors’ actively and continuously in science.” This is how the first “public engagement principles” begin, which were presented to the public at a Berlin Science Week event at the Museum für Naturkunde (Natural History Museum) on November 4, 2022. When communicating with and to the public, it has long been clear that research needs to involve society. The principles are intended to help establish and professionalize public engagement in Germany, so that cooperation between researchers and the public becomes an integral part of the research process.
“We are at the beginning of a bottom-up movement of many committed individuals who have the goal of making science more open,” says Rebecca Beiter from the University of Stuttgart, the Cyber Valley Public Engagement Manager. “In European research funding, public engagement and open science are now part of the criteria of scientific excellence. As a consequence, it’s expected that, in Germany, the interaction between scientists and other groups of society will – and must – increase. With the public engagement principles, we contribute to this dynamic by passing on the experience we have gained during our extensive public-engagement work in our research network over the past two and a half years. The guideline represents what the public-engagement community in Germany is committed to.
The public engagement principles were created by Cyber Valley, the Berlin School of Public Engagement and Open Science in the Museum für Naturkunde, the Public-Engagement Code of Conduct Working Group as well as (science) communication professionals. The text describes a vision, a mission as well as principles, and it shows what public engagement can achieve in a democratic society. The principles are an important basis for practicing public engagement in Germany and are aimed at those who want to pursue and promote public engagement in science as well as separate it more from science public relations. The principles build on existing guidelines for science communication and adds to them the perspective of what principles public engagement is using to shape the dialog in Germany. The document will be revised annually based on input from the community. The next version is scheduled to be published in October 2023.
“The Berlin School is very proud to be a co-initiator and host for the launch of the public engagement principles,” said Anna-Zoë Herr, Public Engagement Coordinator at the Berlin School of Public Engagement and Open Science. “We were able to benefit from the international experience of our team, so that public engagement can establish itself as a field and be practiced in the German research landscape. We need a cultural change, which we, at the Berlin School, want to promote vigorously. The principles are the first step toward that.”
Further information about the public engagement principles and its authors: https://www.publicengagement.berlin/public-engagement-kodex
If you would like to get involved as a co-creator, please join the LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12721155/
About Cyber Valley Public Engagement:
Cyber Valley aims to initiate an ongoing process of critical reflection on the ethical and social implications of AI research. We therefore invite you to take part in our recurring dialog formats. Our goal is to make AI research more accessible and promote dialog between society and AI researchers.
About the Berlin School:
The Berlin School of Public Engagement and Open Science is a cooperation between the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, the Humboldt University of Berlin, and the Robert Bosch Foundation within the framework of the Berlin Science Campus. The Berlin School enables and strengthens communication of and through research. In particular, it helps scientists and their publics deal with research and research processes interactively and in a context-aware approach. To this end, the School sees itself as a hub for all public-engagement actors.