Citizens without Borders is honoured to take part in an exciting endeavour for the next three years: ‘Doing It Together science’ or DITOs. But what is DITOs, who is involved, how, and why? In the following weeks we will be posting more news about CwB’s and our partner’s engagement in DITOs and answer these crucial questions about our initiative. First, an introduction.
As a pan-European project DITOs aims to build institutional and policy foundations for a sustained deep public engagement in science and technology in Europe. This will be done in a way that enables people from all walks of life to contribute at a level of participation that is interesting to them and also suits their lifestyle; whether that is engaging in face-to-face community meetings, working in a citizen biolab or using a crowdsourcing app to log air quality to address local issues. In this project we want to move beyond more traditional approaches of engagement (e.g. hearings, public meetings, non-interactive exhibits, etc.) into direct engagement that builds upon hands-on Do-It-Yourself (DIY), grassroots, and frugal innovation initiatives so that in the short and medium term we help sustain localised capacity building and in the long term the effects of these grassroots efforts channel into policy action at different levels. Our initiatives are focused on developing activities in two broad themes: BioDesign (defined in simple terms: when engineering, biology, and art come together) and Environmental sustainability, and through two approaches: Public engagement in tandem with capacity building and Policy engagement (with local decision-makers, funders, etc.).
‘Doing It Together science’ in summary:
Why Do It Together?
Citizens have a major role to play in addressing the challenges to a sustainable future. It is by ‘Doing It Together’ that we combine our resources and expertise to raise awareness, build capacity, and innovative lasting solutions grounded in society. Hence, we will promote a step change in public engagement (Europe-wide) with science and innovation. We will move from a model in which scientific research, innovation, and problem-solving is mainly driven by scientific institutions to one that is based on active public participation and capacity building with various levels and strategies of engagement in the scientific process.
Who is DITOs?
A pan-European network (European Citizen Science Association ECSA – linking practitioners, scientists, and supporting policy makers), SMEs (Tekiu; eutema), universities (UCL; Universite Paris Descartes; University of Geneva), science galleries, museums and arts organisations (Kapelica Gallery / Kersnikova; Medialab-Prado; Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences RBINS) and NGOs (Meritum Association; Waag Society). These organisations cross multiple countries and languages, enabling coverage of much of Europe in its native languages.
Who is it with?
You – and it matters because everyone brings something to the table. Are you a concerned resident, a person wishing to connect with others on local/regional issues, a student, an entrepreneur, a pensioner, an educator, a carer, a curious person, a tinkerer, an arts/science/technology enthusiast, an employee in any industry/sector, a public official, a funder, a passerby, an observer looking for opportunities? Then, hop on and join in the various activities we will have and develop together.
In DITOs we would like you to join events and activities that match your needs, interests, time available, and skills. This is why we will be organising a range of activities in the broad categories of interactive and traveling exhibitions (e.g. XperiLAB – more on these in a future post), online activities (incl. educational materials – e.g. MOOCs – and games), Cafes (incl. debates, round tables, seminars, pub-nights, film nights), and DIY/DIT workshops (e.g. playshops we’ve had at CwB, and DIYBio workshops at Waag). At each of these there will be opportunities to engage and engage further. We will also be providing support for existing organisations to develop over time (and as we learn together) guidelines to share the ingredients of successful projects: lessons learnt, know-hows, ideas, prototypes, and tips.
DITOs officially began this month! We will be posting links to upcoming activities for CwB and the other partner organisations here – stay tuned!
In the next related blog we’ll share the story of how our project came about and then who the people involved are – a brilliant set of groups and organisations, by the way! Follow the links above to get an idea.