Societal impact and popular science presentation in focus in new doctoral course
Can you practice creating impact and communicating your research? Yes, that is what the ABE school's doctoral students will now get the chance to do in the new course FAF3009 Impact of research within the built environment 3.0 credits starting in September.
Johan Silfwerbrand, Professor in Concrete structures and initiator of the course tells us more.
Why is societal impact important?
- As a researcher, it is extremely important to be able to view your research in a larger perspective and to effectively communicate it to the outside world. Societal impact is becoming increasingly important, especially in these times of fake news. If you look at what happens to the climate e.g. then you realise how important it is that knowledge gets disseminated and does not get stuck in the universities. But you have to speak and write so that everyone interested understands. I have been the technical editor of the magazine 'Betong' (Concrete) for many years and I notice that many easily get caught up in details and write too scientifically. It is important as a researcher to be able to draw conclusions based on what you have done, without either presuming or leaving room for someone else to make their own simplified conclusions.
How did this course come about?
- There is already a similar doctoral course given at another school at KTH, which I was inspired by. I felt that it was important that our school's doctoral students also would get the chance to begin to practice spreading what they do during their doctoral period, and also that it is important that the focus would be on impact specifically for research within the Built Environment area. The course will give doctoral students tools to be able to - and dare to - communicate their research results effectively. There are many actors who request more information about the latest research - colleagues in industry and academia, research funders, decision-makers, the media and even a technology-interested public - to name a few. For the doctoral student, reaching out more can also initiate interesting discussions and collaborations that he / she would not otherwise get the opportunity to be a part of.
What do you get to do and learn in the course?
The course is given as a seminar series. The assignments are in three steps - first to review different channels and potential recipients and target groups in the outside world based on one's own research area, then to write a popular science article about one's own research project, where the research is placed in a larger societal context. Finally, the doctoral student may present his / her own research project orally to a general but technically interested audience. In short, you learn why it is important to reach out and what channels there are, as well as to write about and present your research to stakeholders outside academia.