843   Insight talk

Co-Design as a Paradigm Shift in Science Communication related to complex problems

Author: Eva Kalmar
Science Education & Communication, TU Delft, Netherlands

Science Communication has shifted from decreasing knowledge deficit to engage and initiate discussions with the public about, for example, vaccination denial or fear from GMOs. These problems are complex, and current public engagement practices are tackling them only from a single perspective, leaving complexity and some stakeholders out of the picture. Co-design is frequently used to solve complex problems and to engage different stakeholders actively, but not in Science Communication. Co-design is a process in which users and other stakeholders are involved in some phases of design to create a product, service or experience together.

SEED, a 2-day-long co-creation think tank was organised around the topic of Blockchain for Science. The aim of SEED was to create multidisciplinary teams out of stakeholders to solve critical issues of the scientific life cycle. Librarians, Blockchain developers, researchers from natural and social sciences were sitting together with lawyers, grant officers and patent officers to formulate concrete problems and to come up with Blockchain-based solutions. Six teams were working on the issues, and at the end of the sessions, they have voted for the best project which was developed to a minimal viable product.

Qualitative analysis of team processes during the think tank show that co-design helped the freshly formed multistakeholder teams in initiating effective discussions in most cases. Analyzing the interrelations of the stakeholders and understanding other stakeholders’ perspectives helped the deeper understanding of the problems. Those teams, which discussed fundamental issues standing behind the problems more were able to come up with game-changing and creative solutions, compared to those in which participants had a fixed mindset.

Based on our experiences, we argue that co-design has the potential to initiate effective discussions between different stakeholders of science communication-related complex problems, leading to a deeper understanding of the problems and to more successful solutions.

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