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SSPC Impact Case Study: Education and Public Engagement

SSPC Impact Case Study: Sustainability

RACE: Raw Communications and Engagement

Project Lead:

Dr Sarah Hayes

Areas of Impact:

Environmental, Human Capacity, New Knowledge, Policy & Public Service, Societal

Researchers: Dr Martin McHugh and Dr Aimee Stapleton, SSPC, University of Limerick. Prof. Felix Ho and Prof. Daniel Brandell, Uppsala University. Dr Paul McCrory, Prof. Jarkko Ketolainen and Prof. Ossi Korhonen, University of Eastern Finland) and Prof. Juan Herrera Herbert, Technical University of Madrid.

Partners: Martin Fennel, Rusal, Aughnish Alumina; Tony Hand, Tadhg Farrell, Boliden, Tara Mines.

Raw Communications and Engagement (RACE) was an EU Horizon 2020 EIT RawMaterials funded programme aimed at changing the way scientists and researchers connect with the public on the topic of raw materials. The core components of a STEM degree programme should provide graduates with the foundations for a career in STEM, whether they continue on further into academia or move into industry or other fields. Despite this, graduates are frequently left lacking in transferable skills. The RACE module develops the communications and public engagement skills of masters and doctoral students, aiming to bridge that gap.

There are numerous barriers to scientists taking part in science communication; studies have shown that many scientists lack an appropriate skillset for successful communication and public engagement, and that training opportunities to develop these skills are lacking. RACE’s primary objective was the development and enhancement of awareness and understanding of the topic of raw materials (RM), and the potential careers available in this field. To achieve this, the team developed and implemented a training module (see Appendix 1) targeted at working professionals, higher education (HE) postgraduate students and HE staff. This module nurtures these students and professionals in the science communication of raw materials to the public, thus achieving this goal.

The module was co-created by industry and academic partners, ensuring that the voice of both stakeholders was reflected in the content and learning objectives. This approach also ensured that the resulting module was developed and delivered in a way that was accessible to the working professional and suitable for hybrid learning.

Summary of the Impact
The overall objective of RACE is to enhance and develop awareness and understanding of the broad area of raw materials (RM), and the potential careers available in this field. Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) are increasingly shaping the world we live in. It is vital that society is informed about and engaged with STEMM at all levels. The RACE Programme shares science communication expertise with scientists, to help make their work more transparent and accountable, and to move towards research that is more responsive to societal needs.

RACE worked across multiple European countries and institutions. Experts in communication worked with masters and PhD students to transform their work. The summer schools comprised of a weeklong intensive course in which 24 PhD students from Sweden (Uppsala University), Finland (University of Eastern Finland) and Ireland (University of Limerick) participated. Students undertaking a technical graduate programme in a scientific background (pharmacy, materials science, engineering, etc.) linked to raw materials and the course enabled them to build outreach and public engagement skills, which they can translate, to their own research area. This led to the development to a huge array of outreach events being developed.

Book chapters:
McHugh, .M. Hayes, S. Stapleton, A. and Ho, F. M. (2019) ‘RAw Communications and Engagement (RACE): Teaching Science through Modular Design’, in Schultz, M., Schmid, S. and Lawrie, G. A. (Eds.), in Research and Practice in Chemistry Education: Advances from the 25th IUPAC International Conference on Chemistry Education 2018, Springer: Singapore 10.
McHugh, M., Stapleton, A., Ho, F., Brandell, D., McCrory, P. and Hayes, S. (2019) ‘RAw Communication and Engagement (RACE): A collaborative European project fostering wider societal engagement through scientific communication training’, in Eilks, I., Markic, S. and Ralle, B. Eds., ‘Building Bridges Across Disciplines for Transformative Education and a Sustainable Future, a collection of invited papers inspired by the 24th Symposium on Chemistry and Science Education’, Aachen: Shaker Verlag, 263-268.

Refereed conference papers/proceeding:
Hayes, S., Brandell, D, and Ho, F. (2018). RAW Communication and Engagement. In Finlayson, O.E., McLoughlin, E., Erduran, S., & Childs, P. (Eds.), Electronic Proceedings of the ESERA 2017 Conference. Research, Practice and Collaboration in Science Education, Part 17 (co-ed. Jenaro Guisaola), (pp. 2273-2282). Dublin, Ireland: Dublin City University. ISBN 978-1-873769-84-3

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