Samenweten, wat is waar en waarom

Science, how does that work? How and why do scientific ideas change over time? What do those changes mean? And how can science and society learn from each other? Samenweten addresses these questions using dialogues, workshops and a platform.

If translated literally Samenweten means Knowing together. But Samenweten is also a merge of the Dutch words samenleving and wetenschap, that means society and science.

From opinion to societal dialogue

‘Science is only an opinion’. ‘So we must do that just because science says so?’ Such statements are increasingly heard in the public debate and do science no good. This calls for a broad approach to restore and expand public trust in scientific knowledge and skills. Part of the approach is to clarify that scientific results are sometimes not conclusive yet, even though unambiguous solutions are already being requested. Stimulating the engagement of citizens in science increases mutual understanding and helps to eliminate misconceptions about science and evidence.

‘To strengthen the dialogue between science and society – that is our goal’ 

What is Samenweten doing?

Samenweten is not only about questioning, but also about action. We will support researchers to collaborate with citizens, journalists, politicians and other societal groups. That is being done by organizing workshops and meetings and by providing an overview of all initiatives that are going on with regard to science & society.

Platform for public engagement

Samenweten will create a platform for citizens' involvement in science, focusing on transparency about the process of science and an open conversation between science and society. Samenweten will strengthen existing events as well as initiate new public engagement activities. It collects information about the effectiveness of public engagement and will also measure the impact of its own activities and share those results.

Workshops for early career researchers: Standing up for Science

Science is at the heart of society. That is why Samenweten organizes workshops for young scientists to place their research in a broader context. During the workshops, young researchers will talk to experienced researchers, science journalists and other experts in the field of science communication and public engagement about how you can better involve citizens in your research. We will also be doing a number of very practical assignments that can help scientists to interact more with civil society organizations.

Workshop Fall 2020

The first workshop for PhD students and postdocs will be online in October this year. Do you want to be notified when the registration starts? Send an e-mail to: mariette.oosterwegel@knaw.nl 

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What is the question?

Science means asking questions and discovering new things. To be better able to cope with the enormous stream of news from science, it helps to ask questions. But what are the questions that really help you? 

Questions are actually multifunctional tools that you can use in different situations and with different purposes. Therefore, Samenweten develops together with the Origin Center programs to stimulate citizens to ask more questions and especially more effective questions. All kinds of questions are concerned: why questions, questions about the proof of scientific statements and about the state of the scientific debate, what-does-that-mean questions, ask for information, suppose-so questions. We want to develop concrete instructions and other tools for citizens, communication professionals, teachers and researchers themselves. An example of such an instruction package can be found here.

Facts & myths about…

We are going to set up a series of dialogues, starting with a platform for information and opinions about plastic soup. 

What is true and what is not true when it comes to the use of plastic, or plastic waste in nature? In this project, we will distinguish between facts, myths and what we do not yet know about plastic. Plus we will bring together a group of young and interested citizens to discuss what we want to know about plastic. Erik van Sebille (member of The Young Academy) has made a website with 7 myths about plastic soup for students, which will serve as a starting point. EASAC has issued an advice Packaging plastic in the circular economy, in which political, ethical, economic, technical and scientific issues are described. These sources provide the basis for a flying start to this platform. 

About Samenweten, wat is waar en waarom?

Samenweten started January 1, 2020 as a project of the Royal Netherlands Academy of arts and sciences (KNAW) and is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and science (OCW). Dr. Mariëtte Oosterwegel is leading the project.