The Institute of Higher Education Research has had a long interest in science communication, but so far has kept this under the radar. It was treated as an internal project, literature surveys and workshops –to which both I contributed — were low key and there was no real financing.
Thus, it seemed like good luck when a few months ago the Volkswagen Foundation published a call to apply for research grants to cover the Corona Crisis and Beyond from the perspective of social studies. A group of people from the institute including myself wrote a proposal that asks how the pandemic influences science communication: Does it foster or hinder the overall trend towards participatory and multidirectional formats? Aptly enough, we called it “Under the radar,” as we wanted to focus on developments at institutions and networks not in the front row (e.g. scientists very present on media) but rather in the second tier. We presume that it’s these people that implement lasting change, and therefore have to be asked when we want to know about the effects of the pandemic.
It seems that more than 1.100 proposals arrived at the VW-Foundation, and surprisingly enough ours was one of the 100 that were chosen for funding. A colleague and I thus started in April to dig out teeth into this project. As always, the funding period is way too short but at least for 1.5 years I can now officially spend my time investigating science communication.