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Building the European City of Scientific Culture

The PLACES project

The core of the PLACES project was formed by more than 60 European City Partnerships in almost 30 countries.

The City Partnerships constitute alliances of science communication institutions and local policymakers. The partnerships have been the basis for collaborative work between local stakeholders to develop Local Action Plans targeting science communication policies in European cities and regions.

In many cases, City Partnerships have grown to involve media, non-governmental organizations, universities, research institutions, companies, and other interested parties. The Local Action Plans target key challenges in cities, based on scientific problem-solving.

The Local Action Plnas are strategic visions that inform science communication policy at the local level for many years to come. The City Partnerships developed the plans addressing science and technology-related issues relevant to their respective city or region. Citizen consultations thus have been key steps in the development of the Local Action Plans.

An extensive series of Pilot Activities have tested innovative approaches to communicate science-based solutions in cities. The Pilot Activities were developed in connection with Local Action Plans, to test best practices on how to address controversial or problematic local issues in a way that actively involves citizens. Getting together in Europe

Annual Conferences, Science Cities Workshops, training opportunities and Thematic Working Groups brought PLACES stakeholders together in a united effort. Annual conferences:

Year 1 Paris, France, 28-29 Sep 2011: Networking, examples, and reasons to build local policies for science communication
Year 2 Tartu, Estonia, 10-12 October 2012: creative workshops with recommendations for Pilot Activities and a focus on gauging science communicators’ expectations
Year 3 Torino, Italy, 20-21 June 2013: practical guidance about implementing science communication policies
Year 4 Bremen, Germany, 10-12 March 2014: main outcomes, activities and recommendations of PLACES. www.openplaces.eu/conference

Furthermore, series of Science Cities Workshops and Training Workshops were arranged for discussing the development of local science communication policies. Finally, a number of Thematic Working Groups were discussing how science communication policies and activities connect to the Europe 2020 targets: Employment, research and development, climate change and energy, education, and poverty. The groups promoted exchanges between City Partnerships that differ in experience but have similar local contexts - and vice versa.

The PLACES Stakeholders Assembly operated at the European level to provide expert insight and analysis on project outputs. The Assembly was an external and specialized voice in PLACES composed of non-governmental organizations, journalists, universities, research centres, and others.

The PLACES OPEN web platform (www.openplaces.eu) is the workspace for all parties to develop and exchange knowledge and experiences. The PLACES OPEN web platform remains a meeting place for people working on PLACES as well as a “science in society” resource centre. The OPEN platform is open for people from any number of projects or networks who want to contribute to PLACES.

Reports and assessments document European realities of how local actors and science interact and produce recommendations for future policies. This wealth of data about science communication policies, science communication actors, as well as impact assessments of their activities and associated policies, is available as final reports. These reports contain recommendations for building effective science communication policies in European cities.

PLACES will conclude in 2014 with local and EU-level recommendations on how to build European Cities of Scientific Culture. All material is available online, and was presented and discussed with leading researchers, city and region representatives, European Union officials and politicians, and science communication experts at the PLACES of Scientific Culture conference in Bremen 10-12 March 2014.