Report of the 9th Living Knowledge Conference 2022
Groningen, The Netherlands
Wednesday 29th of June 2022
Science shop, Wetenschapswinkel, Bazar de las Ciencias or Forskningstorg… Many names for organizations that have the same goal in mind: the co-creation of research with citizens and their organizations to find solutions and therefore have a positive impact on real world problems.
Henk Mulder kicked off the first plenary session, welcoming all 280 participants from 25 different countries! He started the session of the 9th Living Knowledge Conference on the concept of the Living Knowledge Conference and the Living Knowledge Network. With ‘To meet, to learn and to collaborate’ as the theme for this year’s conference, today was all about meeting each other and the questions of the day reflected this theme: who did you meet today and why was that interesting?
To get a sense of place, the plenary session started with an introduction to the Groningen Science Shop by the local team of the conference. The local team highlighted several recently finished projects, among one was the research project at Stichting (On)gestoord (The (Un)disturbed foundation). We met Esther Jansen, the founder of Stichting (On)gestoord and Wieke Steenbruggen, a Master student in education in human and social sciences from the University of Groningen. They joined the session to talk about their research at Stichting (On)gestoord about the effect of the corona pandemic on people who are or have been in need of mental health care.
Henk introduced us to Kate Morris from Campus Engage, an organization that aims to bring Irish universities and society together to address societal challenges. And we met Rowinda Appelman, she gave a talk about City Deal Kennis Maken, an initiative that aims to strengthen knowledge partnerships, help solve societal issues, and create a rich learning environment. Rowinda ended the talk with an interesting take home message, she said: “Be a wallflower, do enough to be noticed, but don’t do enough to actually upset anyone. It actually helps and that way you can slowly keep building.”
After a short coffee break at the Harmonie building, most of us joined one of many parallel sessions. People from the Living Lab Project from Victoria, Canada, talked about land-based learning, eco-cultural restoration and art as an accessible form to reach people and create awareness. Another group discussed the importance and power of illustration in (research) projects. How do you visualize your idea and your research and how can that be helpful? The session ended with the group mapping out their morning travel to the conference or drawing one of their research projects to get the conversation started.
We ended this lovely and sunny first day of the conference at the welcome reception in the A-Kerk. Jouke de Vries, president of the University of Groningen, opened the evening with a warm welcome to our international participants and the inspirational collaborations in our network. Some people enjoyed a tour by one of the artists Aimee ter Burg of the exhibition on Bittersweet Heritage while others chatted or listened to the music of the band Anamesa.
Thursday the 30th of June
This day was all about learning, so the question of the day was: “What did you learn today and how could you use it?” Before continuing with the programm, someone from the audience made a nice comment on science shops in general. She said that science shops are not like dinosaurs, as they are not dying out. According to her, science shops were more like sharks, since they can always bite back with the many teeth they have!
The plenary session went on to reflect on methodologies used to create living knowledge with a panel of critical thinkers: Rajesh Tandon, internationally acclaimed leader and partitioner of participatory research, Lisa Herzog, professor in political philosophy at the University of Groningen, and Claudia Göbel, researcher at the institute for higher education and research in Halle-Wittenberg. Under guidance of Nick Nieuwenhuijsen, they discussed all kinds of topics related to distrust in science.
They talked about the tradeoff between scientific quality and genuine community engagement, and between activism and scientific objectivity or rigor. Do attempts to democratize research run the risk of doing away with expertise and knowledge hierarchies altogether? The first round of today’s parallel sessions was of a serious and instructive nature. We learned about inclusivity and diversity, about preparing students for the future and about empowering vulnerable groups of people and the use of platforms in citizen science.
Parallel sessions and poster session
After the lunch break, people could attend multiple laid-back parallel sessions. They had the chance to have accessible conversations with their fellow attendees during the poster session. Furthermore, there were several art-based sessions involving music and making collages among others.
During the last round of parallel sessions, the main stage in the Marie Loke hall was used for a workshop about learning from your mistakes. This session was all about breaking the taboo on making mistakes, the necessity of making mistakes in processes of learning, development, and innovation, and helping attendees to share their mistakes so we all might learn from each other. The most noteworthy remark of this workshop was as follows: “Being direct does not have to mean that you are rude.” The presenter used this remark to show multiple ways of dealing with difficult or awkward situations.
After a long day of talks and interactive sessions, participants could enjoy the conference dinner at De Rietschans, a lovely restaurant at the shores of the Paterswoldse meer. What is a conference in The Netherlands without water activities?! Small and big boat tours were on the menu, and of course some food!
Friday 1st of July
On the last day of the 9th Living Knowledge Conference, there was a very relaxed atmosphere. There were some great parallel sessions on the programme once again. Inclusion, citizen science, public engagement and conspiracy theories were some of the topics that were discussed.
Before heading into the closing plenary session, Henk Mulder hosted a session about the Ideas Fund. The Ideas Fund is a grants programme run by the British Science Association (BSA) and funded by Wellcome, which enables the UK public to work with researchers to develop and try out ideas that address problems related to mental wellbeing. The Fund aims to reach people and communities who are often overlooked by this type of work, including young people and those in rural communities. A panel of several people who owe a lot to the Ideas Fund, both on a personal level and for their work, shared their stories with the rest of the attendees.
The closing plenary session was filled with many words of thanks. The organization thanked everyone for coming and all present thanked the organization with a thunderous applause. Some last words were said about what it meant to have such a lovely group of like-minded people together in one place. Although today’s question of the day “What is your plan for collaboration after this conference?” was not explicitly mentioned, many people answered this question without even knowing it. The entire audience agreed when the message came to them that Living Knowledge is more than an organization or a community. It was described as a family that should be cherished at all costs.
In the afternoon, people joined various trips to, for example, the University Museum or Forum Groningen, or they prepared for a long journey home …
Plenary Speakers and Panelists
WEDNESDAY June 29th
9.00-10.00: OPENING and WELCOME
- Henk Mulder (Conference Chair, Science Shop, University of Groningen),
- Norbert Steinhaus (Coordinator Living Knowledge Network @ Science Shop Bonn, Germany),
- Saskia Visser (Chair Groningen University’s Science Shops)
- Groningen Science Shop Team with Esther Jansen en Wieke Steenbruggen from Stichting (On)gestoord (= Foundation (un)disturbed).
10.00-11.00: SESSION 1: How to create meaningful synergies?
Kate Morris, Head of Campus Engage, Irish Universities Association
Kate leads Campus Engage, which is based within the Irish Universities Association. Campus Engage is dedicated to supporting Irish higher education institutions to embed, scale and promote civic and community engagement across staff and student teaching, learning and research. Kate will speak about the collaborative effort that makes Campus Engage.
Campus Engage aims at supporting Community-based Teaching and Learning; Engaged Research and Innovation for Societal Impact; Student Volunteering and building a national Framework for measuring and evaluating the positive social impact of higher education civic and community engagement.
Kate has over 15 years’ experience in stakeholder engagement for policy and practice change. She has much experience in working with policy makers, funding agencies, research staff, practitioners and the public in Ireland, France, and UK. Prior to joining the IUA Kate worked at the Centre for Effective Public Services, the French National Institute for Demographic Studies, and UNESCO NI.
Rowinda Appelman, programme manager City Deal Kennis Maken, Netherlands
Rowinda is the programme manager of the Dutch “City Deal Kennis Maken” and she will speak on how to get a variety of organizations to work together on generating knowledge to help tackle wicked societal issues. In Dutch, “Kennis Maken” has a double meaning: “Making Knowledge” and “Getting Acquainted”. This exactly what this programme of the National Research Council facilitates. The focus of this City Deal is primarily on involving students, researchers and teachers in urban challenges in rich learning environments. It aims to involve students at all levels, from vocational schools, to universities of applied sciences and research universities. Therefore, in the official English translation it is called the City Deal on Education.
After doing a Social Innovation Fellowship at the U.S. State Department, as one of the first seven Europeans, Rowinda is now responsible for the design and implementation of the City Deal Kennis Maken-programme, which funds collaborations in the 19 largest knowledge cities of The Netherlands. She runs the national network, oversees the strategic collaboration with ministries, umbrella organizations and main partners, and discusses the programme’s progress with the Ministers of Research, Internal Affairs and the leadership of involved partners.
Sophie Duncan, co-director National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), UK
Sophie co-directs the NCCPE. Established in 2008, the NCCPE supports universities to develop their engagement work. Since its early days the NCCPE have sought to provide tools and resources to the sector, to cultivate the conditions where engagement can thrive. Sophie regularly supports university leaders to understand the value of engagement to their work, and develop practical approaches to supporting their staff to engage in mutually beneficial ways with others.
A physicist by training, Sophie has worked in engagement throughout her career including at the Science Museum, NESTA and the BBC, where she led national engagement campaigns including Breathing Places, a campaign to improve biodiversity in the UK. She sits on several advisory panels, including STFC’s Advisory Panel for Public Engagement. She has published a range of papers on evaluation, culture change, and engagement.
As co-editor of Research for All, Sophie is particularly interested in the evidence base for effective public and community engagement, and what this looks like across different disciplines. She has expertise in evaluation, evidencing impact, and partnership working, leading programmes to support mutually beneficial partnerships between university staff and a range of different partners including community organisations; cultural organisations; and schools.
THURSDAY JUNE 30th
9.00-10.30: SESSION 2: A critical reflection on research with and for society in a world of contested expertise
In this conference, we focus on generating living knowledge in the form of research with and for communities. Methodologies like citizen science, participatory action research, living labs, community based research, etc. are used to obtain this kind of living knowledge. These methodologies can be viewed as critiques of more standard scientific methodologies in which professional scientists are the ones in charge of the research, research which aims for “objective” knowledge obtained under ideal conditions using idealizing abstractions.
However, our own critical methodologies themselves are in need of critical reflection. This is particularly relevant because we are now living in a world of contested expertise, post-truth and alternative facts. This raises a number of questions and apparent tensions which we want to address in our panel discussion: Is there a trade-off between scientific quality and genuine community engagement, or between activism and scientific objectivity or rigor? To what extent do methodologies like participatory action research become simply a form of activism, politics by other means? Can this concern simply be brushed away by saying that science is always political or value-laden and that objectivity does not exist? And if our research methodologies are a form of political activism, do we thereby not contribute to the current demise of the authority of science and the general distrust of science and scientific experts? More generally, do attempts to democratise research run the risk of doing away with expertise and knowledge hierarchies altogether?
We have invited a panel of critical thinkers to discuss these issues with us:
Rajesh Tandon, Founder-President of Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA)
Rajesh is an internationally acclaimed leader and practitioner of participatory research and development. He is Founder-President of Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), global centre for participatory research & training since 1982. He is also Co-Chair of the UNESCO Chair on Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education since 2012.
The UNESCO Chair grows out of and supports UNESCO’s global lead to play ‘a key role in assisting countries to build knowledge societies.
As a pioneer of participatory research, Rajesh Tandon has given new meaning to academic research by redefining the relationship between the researcher and the researched. He has championed the cause of building organisations and capacities of the marginalised through their knowledge, learning and empowerment, contributing to the emergence of several local, national and international groups and initiatives to promote authentic and participatory development of societies. Dr Tandon has served on numerous expert committees of Govt of India, UGC, UN, Commonwealth & World Bank. In 2015, the Indian Adult Education Association (IAEA) awarded Dr Tandon the Nehru Literacy Award.
For his distinguished work on gender issues, the Government of India honoured him with the prestigious Award in Social Justice in March 2007. The University of Victoria, Canada, awarded Dr Tandon the degree of Doctor of Law (Honoris Causa) in June 2008. He is the first Indian to be
Lisa Herzog, Faculty of Philosophy and the Center for Philosophy, Politics and Economics of the University of Groningen
Lisa works at the intersection of political philosophy and economic thought. Between 2016 and 2019, she was professor for political philosophy and theory at the Technical University of Munich, since 2019 she works at the Faculty of Philosophy and the Center for Philosophy, Politics and Economics of the University of Groningen. She holds a master (Diplom) in economics from LMU Munich, and an M.St. in Philosophy and D.Phil. in Political Theory from the University of Oxford. She has worked at, or visited, the universities of St. Gallen (CH), Leuven (BE), Frankfurt/Main (D), Utrecht (NL), and Stanford (US). She was a Rhodes Scholar (2007-2011), and in 2019, she received the Tractatus-Preis and the German Award for Philosophy and Social Ethics. Herzog has published on the philosophical dimensions of markets (both historically and systemically), liberalism and social justice, ethics in organizations and the future of work. The current focus of her work are workplace democracy, professional ethics, and the role of knowledge in democracies.
Claudia Göbel, researcher at the Institute for Higher Education Research Halle-Wittenberg (HoF)
Claudia is passionate about interfaces between science and publics through research, education, activism, policy and art. Main topics of her work are open (research) organisations, equity and inclusiveness in participatory research, Citizen Science as international research policy field and relations to Open Science. She tries to link scientific reflection from a science and technology studies perspective with making things happen as a practitioner. As researcher at the Institute for Higher Education Research Halle-Wittenberg (HoF) she currently investigates the landscape of participatory research in the social sciences and humanities in Germany. As guest researcher at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, she analyses the institutionalisation of Citizen Science in Europe. She helped establish the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) in its foundational years through coordinating the secretariat and running the EU-funded project “Doing-it-Together science”. In order to create space to learn from each other and do things together for members of ECSA and Living Knowledge, she initiated the joint working group on “Empowerment, Inclusiveness and Equity in Citizen Science and Community-Based Research” together with Michael Søgaard Jørgensen (Arhus University Copenhagen).
Nick Nieuwenhuijsen, Specialist Strategy and Development for the Fire Brigade of the Safety Region Groningen
The session will be chaired by Nick. He is an ethicist and local politician. He has been employed at the Knowledge Centre Philosophy, the Science Shop of the Philosophy Department, and as the academic advisor of the Honours College of the University of Groningen – an interdisciplinary hotbed in which students work and learn together on complex, interdisciplinary problems. He is interested in local social policies, poverty, healthcare, digitalization and the participation of students within practical societal issues.
Nick has been a member of the Groningen City Council from Jan 2019 – March 2022. He’s currently working as Specialist Strategy and Development for the Fire Brigade of the Safety Region Groningen.
FRIDAY JULY 1st
11.00-12.00: SESSION 3: A semi-plenary on the Ideas Fund: Putting communities in the lead
The Ideas Fund is a grants programme run by the British Science Association (BSA) and funded by Wellcome, which enables the UK public to work with researchers to develop and try out ideas that address problems related to mental wellbeing. The Fund aims to reach people and communities who are often overlooked by this type of work, including young people and those in rural communities. To date, 49 projects across four areas of the UK (Hull, Oldham, North West Northern Ireland and the Highlands & Islands of Scotland) have been supported, totalling £1.8m.
The Fund is trialling a different approach to supporting this work, with individuals, informal groups and charities applying for the funds and leading the projects, and researchers working in support of the community’s plans. Projects are funded following a simple application process, with small grants awarded to build relationships and develop ideas, and 1:1 support being provided. Funded projects are brought together regularly to share their learning.
In this session, we will share more information about the Fund’s approach, and what we’ve learned since launching in January 2021, from the following panel members:
Chris Manion, Head of Grants at the British Science Association (BSA)
Chris has responsibility for delivering The Ideas Fund, which is piloting a new way of supporting communities to work with researchers. The BSA’s vision is of a future where science is more relevant, representative and connected to society, and The Ideas Fund plays a key role in informing this work through supporting a range of individuals and organisations. Around £1.8m in funding has been awarded so far.
Chris has 15 years’ experience in delivering grant making programmes both in the UK and internationally, ranging from a £240m programme designing and building youth centres across England, to supporting livelihoods for disabled people in East Africa. He co-founded a ‘Shift the Power’ movement of UK based funders looking to work differently in international funding, and is passionate about exploring how funding practice needs to change in order to achieve long-term impact.
Since joining the BSA in November 2020, Chris has overseen the launch of the Fund and the piloting of two funding rounds, designed to help reach groups who are often overlooked by this type of work. The team are currently exploring what infrastructure needs to be supported in order to remove the barriers faced by communities and researchers who are looking to work together.
Lewis Hou, Founder and director of the Science Ceilidh
Lewis is one of the Development Coordinators, who has been supporting groups to run their projects, including some who are working with a researcher and managing a grant for the first time, and also convening wider stakeholder networks to share learning.
Lewis Hou is founder and director of the Science Ceilidh, an independent intermediary organisation connecting communities, education, research and culture across Scotland. He consults on equitable community engagement both nationally and internationally and is an organising member of the Anti-Racist Educator collective and the cross-Europe DiverSci Community of Practice. He was a UK Creative Community Fellow and awarded the Public Engagement Innovator Medal with the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Currently, Lewis is an associate trainer with the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement and working with the British Science Association supporting groups in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to lead public engagement and community-based research around mental wellbeing and climate change.
We’ll also hear from two of the projects, about the work that they’re doing, what they’ve gained through working with the researcher, any challenges they’ve come across, and where they’d like to go next with their ideas: Yellow Wood Consultancy (Northern Ireland) and the OPEN Space project (Shetland Islands).
Declan Thompson, Yellow Wood Consultancy Peer Mentor/Researcher
Declan is involved in the planning, design, delivery and research of our mental well-being programme. Declan has walked the path of stress and burnout, and alongside our other Peer Mentors Emma Bond and Jenny Coyle have worked closely with Yellow Wood Consultancy, Clarendon Medical Practice and Ulster University to explore what was needed to aid wellness and recovery at community level.
Declan has 30 years’ professional experience in peer-led programmes in Youth Social Services, and since joining Yellow Wood Consultancy programme has developed deeper interests in coaching/mentoring, and exploring alternative therapies such as Reiki, Reflexology and Visual Relaxation techniques as creative ways to explore the inner self. Yellow Wood Consultancy in collaboration with our community Peer Mentors, Clarendon Medical Practice and Researcher co-create programmes of support using creative and innovative approaches to community action research and improve connection and relationship to self.
Rosemary Bradley, Yellow Wood Consultancy Director/Facilitator
Rosemary is a Yellow Wood Consultancy Director/Facilitator. Rosemary has a background in Psychological therapies and has worked across many Health and Social Care settings over the last 18 years supporting people to improve physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Rosemary also applies her training in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to demonstrate alternative resources to improving well-being.
The OPEN Space research team has developed an innovative approach to empower young people in community action research. Sharing skills and experiences to design and carry out research with young people, engaging with service providers and presenting the findings at strategic and other levels to influence change and improvements.
Akira Foster. OPEN Peer Researchers, Voluntary Action Shetland
Akira is responsible for the design and delivery of the OPEN Space Project. She has over 8 years experience as an OPEN peer educator, with expertise in designing and delivering peer education workshops in all high schools in Shetland.
She and her colleague Shannon have been working closely with the professional researchers and Da Cafe youth committee to design and carry out youth-led community action research. “Gathering evidence of need for a space for young people in Shetland”
Una Murray, OPEN project coordinator, Voluntary Action Shetland
Una is responsible for supporting the research team made up of Da Café Youth Committee. She founded the OPEN project in 2011, with expertise in peer education methodology.
Finally, we’ll discuss the BSA’s longer term vision for this work – how can we influence others and support these approaches to be embedded in wider practice? What needs to be done or funded differently to enable this? What can we learn for future collaborations in research with and for society and our work in the Living Knowledge Network?
Henk Mulder, Programme Director of the Master Science Education and Communication at Uni Groningen
The Ideas Fund representatives will discuss these issues under the guidance of Henk. He joined the Science Shop at the Science and Engineering Faculty in 1989. He is also a lecturer, and Programme Director of the Master Science Education and Communication.
Henk has a long experience in research with and for civil society organizations and the co-creation of knowledge. His interests are public engagement in research, dialogues, science (communication) policies and European/international networking for citizen engagement in all phases of the (responsible) research and innovation process, including agenda-setting. He led the EU funded project “PERARES” and was partner in “Engage2020”, and is on various Advisory Panels. He has degrees in Chemistry and Energy and Environmental Sciences.
Local Organising Committee
The local committee consists of the staff of all six Science Shops of the University of Groningen (UG) and the UG Green Office. They are supported by the Groninger Congresbureau (GCB), the local conference bureau, who will facilitate the conference.
Local conference workgroup
Groningen Congres Bureau
Karin de Boer
International Advisory Committee
Catherine Bates (Dublin Institute of Technology)
Anne-Sophie Gresle (IS-Global, Barcelona)
Budd Hall (University of Victoria/UNESCO)
Daniel Ludwig, University of Vechta
Michael Søgaard Jørgensen (Aalborg University, Copenhagen)
Emma Mc Kenna (Queens University Belfast)
Peter Levesque (Institute for Knowledge Mobilisation, Ottawa)
Reka Matoley (Corvinus University of Budapest)
Glen Millot (Sciences Citoyennes, Paris)
María Jesús Pinazo (IS-Global, Barcelona)
Kahn Rahi (Loka Institute, University of Toronto and CBRN Canada)
Norbert Steinhaus (Wissenschaftsladen Bonn)
Rajesh Tandon (PRIA/UNESCO, New Dehli)
Andrea Vargiu (Universitá di Sassari)
University of Groningen Science Shops
Since 1979, The University of Groningen Science Shops make academic research possible for civil society groups and organizations. Currently, the University of Groningen has six Science Shops, which give access to most of the university’s research fields:
- Bèta Science Shop (Science and Engineering)
- Science Shop Education (Behavioural and Social Sciences)
- FEB Student Consultancy (Economics and Business)
- Knowledge Center Philosophy (Philosophy)
- Science Shop Language, Culture and Communication (Arts and Humanities)
- Science Shop Public Health and Medicine (Medical Sciences – University Medical Center Groningen)
If you want to know more about our research, news or activities, make sure to check our website.
University of Groningen Green Office
The UG Science Shops coordinators work together with the Green Office, the university department that inspires students and staff to think and act more sustainable. Like Science Shops, the Green Office offers student projects and organises activities about sustainability. They are also intensively involved in making the Living Knowledge Conference as sustainable as possible.
Wijk Inzet Jongeren en Studenten (WIJS)
WIJS (Wijk Inzet Jongeren en Studenten – Dutch website) is a collaboration of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences with the Municipality of Groningen, WIJ-Groningen (the Social Work Teams of Groningen, Alfa-college and Noorderpoort-college and University of Groningen. WIJS translates as “WISE” and the Dutch abbreviation means “Neighbourhood Efforts of Young People and Students”. WIJS sets up student projects in the city, with and for citizens, social work teams, etc, and offers a place where citizens can have walk-in advisory sessions concerning taxes, rent, legal issues, etc. WIJS and the University of Groningen Science Shops work together to help civil society organizations with their questions and to create joint projects. WIJS resides in the Paddepoel shopping center in the north of the city.