How we created a highly-demanded communication course for scientists

Client

EU Joint Research Centre (JRC)
Sector: government

Related services

Group Processes, Visual Storytelling, Training

Theme driver

Communication

The Challenge

We live in a post-truth world. It’s a world where policy makers often doubt scientific evidence. A world where everybody can have their own truth. How can science bring an added value for policy making in this context? How do we train scientists to create a political impact with their research?

 

This was the ground to design a 2-day active learning course for scientists. Our interactive course brought a new perspective to learning for many scientists. Based on a pilot training created by the Rathenau institute, we co-created this communication course for scientists with Francois Busquet and the DG JRC.

The Approach

We started from the fact that policymakers and scientists live in different realities.  Scientists live in a world of facts, research, finding truth, understanding reality & uncertainty. Policymakers inhabit a world of justification, values, pressure groups & compromise. The training course helped them to build a bridge between the world of policy making and world research.

 

On the first day, we focused on attitudes and knowledge. So we created a simulation game. Through this game, the participating scientists experienced the reality of policymakers. It helped them grasp their role in supporting policy makers. We also interweaved knowledge that came from the group with targeted and up-to-date scientific insights.

 

The second day concentrated on successful communication strategies to share research outcomes. We did this by use of a case study. First, we focused on understanding our target group. Second, on how to create great key messages without oversimplifying the complex reality. Further, they learned how to use visuals as a vehicle to bring their message in an approachable way.

 

The learning material included a fit-for-purpose learning booklet and an accompanying slide deck. The latter also gives a good example of how to create top-notch slides.

The Result

Over the last 4 years we trained over 600 scientists from the JRC. On top of that, the course has one of the highest satisfaction scores in the whole European Commission year after year. Many national governments and research organizations want to provide the course to their scientists.

"This communication training for scientists has one of the highest satisfaction scores in the whole European Commission year after year."

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