The University of Valencia, european centre of science communication

  • Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit
  • October 26th, 2019
Participants, moderators, observers and facilitators in the Valencia citizen consultation at the Botanical Garden. Photo: CONCISE.
Participants, moderators, observers and facilitators in the Valencia citizen consultation at the Botanical Garden. Photo: CONCISE.

One hundred people from all over Spain met in Valencia to participate in a public consultation that took place on Saturday at the Botanical Garden of the University of Valencia. The event, organised by the academic institution itself and the company FyG Consultores, is part of the activities of CONCISE, a project funded by the European Union whose objective is to investigate what role scientific communication plays in the knowledge and beliefs of European citizens around scientific issues.

This public consultation allows ordinary citizens to exchange opinions about the way in which four current scientific topics are communicated in Spain: vaccines, climate change, genetically modified organisms and the use of alternative therapies. “Our general objective is to understand how scientific information reaches Spanish citizens and what is its effect on people’s attitudes towards issues that are controversial at the social level,” explains Carolina Moreno, Professor of Journalism at the University of Valencia and head of the CONCISE project.

For the consultation, the organisation selected one hundred people with different profiles in terms of age, gender, origin and level of education. Their contributions to the consultation will show which channels Spanish citizens use and prefer to inform themselves about science-related issues, how they evaluate the information received in terms of reliability, how that influences the decisions they make individually, and how they think communication could be improved in relation to these matters. All people have participated in the study voluntarily, without receiving money in return.

The Spanish consultation was the fourth of five consultations that CONCISE will carry out in as many European cities this autumn: Vicenza (Italy), Łódź (Poland), Trnava (Slovakia), Valencia and Lisbon (Portugal). In total, the project is collecting the testimonies of 500 people, representing the 500 million of the European Union. After the consultations, the opinions of the participants will be transcribed and analysed with specialised software. This will identify markers, correlations and trends that will help journalists and communicators, the scientific community, the political class and the general public to communicate more directly and effectively, and thus avoid possible misleading speeches that generate mistrust and misunderstanding.


Full event

The participants arrived after half past eight in the morning. They were welcomed by the Vice-rector for Research of the University of Valencia, Carlos Hermenegildo: “The third function of the university is the transfer of knowledge to society, that is, to return the knowledge that we have created, and that this be understood by the citizenship. Therefore, the results obtained in this project are very important for the University of Valencia and Spanish and European society”.

For her part, Carolina Moreno, in the institutional welcome thanked on behalf of the consortium of partners that carry out CONCISE “the willingness to participate of all the people attending the consultation, between citizens and moderators, observers and facilitators, in total more than 150 people”. Jordi Garcés, Director of the Institute of Welfare Policies (Polibienestar) of the UV, pointed out that it is a project “of great interest to assess how information on science reaches society”. In this sense, he has indicated that the objective of all the works is that the results of the investigations can reach society and modify people’s lives and achieve a better well-being.

After the presentation, the participants took their seats at the discussion tables, organised in groups of 8 to 10 people. Each person was involved in four debates throughout the day, one for each topic of study. In addition to the participants, the discussion tables had moderators to lead the conversations, and observers to take notes that will facilitate transcripts. It is expected that there will also be diplomas and small gifts for participants and collaborators (moderators, observers and volunteers) who have made the consultation possible.


About CONCISE project

CONCISE is a collaborative research project funded by the Horizon 2020 program - ‘Science by and for the Society’ of the European Union, whose main objective is to build new ways of cooperation between science and society. CONCISE is formed by nine institutions from five European countries, a multidisciplinary team led by the University of Valencia and which also has the Spanish participation of the Centre for Science, Communication and Society Studies of the Pompeu Fabra University, FyG Consultores and the Spanish Association of Science Communication.