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University of Silesia in Katowice

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Forum of Polish Science Festival Organisers: a working meeting during the pandemic

25.02.2021 - 12:14 update 01.03.2021 - 18:01
Editors: OO

On Tuesday, 23 February 2021 the Silesian Science Festival KATOWICE hosted a working meeting as part of the Forum of Polish Organisers of Science Festivals. The online event was attended by representatives of 15 entities organising science festivals across Poland, as well as Łukasz Wilczyński – President of the European Space Foundation, initiator and co-organiser of the European Rover Challenge (one of the largest international robotics and space competitions in the world).

“Definitely, the coronavirus pandemic has strengthened the need for science communication,” said Prof. Ryszard Koziołek, General Director of ŚFN KATOWICE and the Rector of the University of Silesia in Katowice. “Sadly, we also see some scepticism regarding the SARS-CoV-19 vaccine in the scientific community. This, however, reveals another extremely important objective of all science festivals: we must convince the unconvinced that vaccines are good and necessary. The leading idea of our endeavours can no longer be just to wow the audience – we have to move away from this effect to solving specific problems, such as for instance the coronavirus,” said Prof. Ryszard Koziołek.

The festival organisers discussed their experiences in conducting events in difficult circumstances caused by the pandemic. Virtually all participants of the forum tried to answer the question as to what extent the upcoming editions should be carried out online, and all of them postponed the festivals until autumn 2021. The Lower Silesian Science Festival has already decided on conducting the event entirely remotely. Other initiatives, such as the Science and Art Festival in Krakow, have considered using other venues that would make the event more safe and efficient – the festival representatives considered moving from the market square to the Tauron Arena, but decided to stay in the usual location.

“Last year’s edition of the European Rover Challenge has already been conducted in a hybrid manner, and this year will be no different,” said Łukasz Wilczyński. “We follow the principle that an online participant is equal to an offline participant, so a viewer participating via the Internet can look at any place that is accessible to viewers present at the venue. I think we operate in such exceptional circumstances that you should not be afraid that something will not work out. If you ask me for advice, these are the two most important ones,” said the ERC originator.

The participants also discussed joint initiatives that would strengthen cooperation between science festivals in Poland. It is worth mentioning that the fourth ŚFN KATOWICE in January 2020 was coupled with the first Forum of Polish Science Festival Organisers, during which a letter of intent was signed to establish the network of cooperation under the title Agreement of Science Festival Organisers in Poland.

What we can mention right now is the project of the Science Communicator Academy, a series of meetings during which the best Polish, as well as foreign (thanks to the relationship between ŚFN KATOWICE and the festivals in Cheltenham and Belfast) science communicators would share good practices in this field with everyone who wants to improve their skills.

The fifth ŚFN KATOWICE will take place in 2021 – we are still trying to ensure that the event will be held at the best possible time for all parties involved. As for now, we encourage you to read the summary of the last four editions of ŚFN: issuu.com

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