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Enhancing Societal Relevance and Mutual Learning

Networks of Researchers and Societal Actors

LU Land – unique networking opportunity for researchers and stakeholders

Starting off as a thematic collaboration initiative initiated by Professor Henrik Smith at CEC and the Department of Biology, financed by LU to contribute to land-use for a sustainable future, LU Land has grown to become a well-known platform connecting academia and stakeholders mainly in southern Sweden. By lifting and discussing land-use related challenges and goal conflicts in a holistic perspective, and by mutual learning, constructive dialogue and collaboration, the aim is to together find solutions to the challenges society faces when it comes to how our landscapes are best utilised and managed, considering trade-offs between different interests and perspectives. LU Land is today the major collaboration platform of BECC, aiming to generate research impact and facilitate multi-actor approaches. LU Land has 27 official stakeholder partners, but its network consists of more than 1200 people. 

LU Land facilitates networking and collaboration between society and academia both by mediating how-to knowledge on inter- and transdisciplinary research, policy competence and ongoing societal processes, and by creating multi-disciplinary and multi-sectorial meeting places. It hosts two monthly open online seminar series, both regularly attracting more than 100 stakeholder participants: the popular breakfast seminars, lifting challenges and illustrating different perspectives, and a lecture series enabling more direct knowledge transfer developed in collaboration with the County Administrative Board of Skåne. Other events aim at strengthening the connection between BECC-research and policy processes or concern collaborative initiatives with specific actors on specific issues. 

Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre

The Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre (GGBC), founded by BECC researcher Professor Alexandre 

GGBC logo

Antonelli, aims to link science and society around biodiversity and enhance and accelerate biodiversity research. GGBC is a collaborative effort of eighteen partner organisations, all of whom work with biodiversity in some capacity, such as research, education, outreach, collections, conservation, etc. The centre is hosted by the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, UGOT. From the start in 2017 there has been a close collaboration with BECC, which is supporting GGBC. GGBC is a unique interface between science and society working with knowledge production and knowledge transfer, also promoting research and understanding through active collaborations and outreach events.

Citizen Science

Engaging citizens in science is not only a way for a researcher to receive data, but a way for the public to understand their surroundings, receive information directly from scientists, and through that appreciate science in action and comprehend the science process. Biodiversity is an appealing area to involve citizens in. It is something most of us are aware of, but still do not recognise the vastness and importance of. 

In BECC, several projects have been carried out with the help of the public including garden owners, teachers, and school children. BECC researcher Dr Anna Persson at CEC, LU, has led a project that evaluated the ecological outcomes of a citizen science campaign run by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Operation: Save the bees, focusing on residential garden habitats, and where citizens were encouraged to incorporate interventions beneficial to wild pollinators (garden meadows, flower plantings, and bee hotels) in their gardens. Another project of hers, Hitta vårens första humla (Find the first bumblebee of spring), encouraged the public to report their sighting of the season's first bumblebee queen. Around 6000 observations were sent in over the three years that the project ran. 

Yet another example is the long-term project Så Vilda! which has been ongoing since 2019. It is a cooperation between the Botanical Garden of Gothenburg and the GGBC, that so far has engaged 15 000 children to learn about biodiversity, with a focus on plants and pollinating insects. The wish is to establish a movement that speaks for biodiversity and works against “plant blindness,” meaning people to a lesser degree can name the plants in their own surroundings, symptomatic on a global scale. 

Broadening the Discussion Through Culture

Synthesising research for policy makers is one way of disseminating research results, but this kind of information rarely makes it into a wider public discussion. Another way of engaging the broader public and to facilitate cross-disciplinary conversation is to use different means of culture; it could be writing popular science, use social media or produce news outlets, getting involved with artists, or producing your own podcast.

BECC researchers have explored different means of reaching new audiences and creating new avenues for engagement with biodiversity and climate change research. One example of a method used is storyworld building, which BECC researchers senior lecturer Johannes Stripple at the Department of Political Science and Dr Alexandra Nikoleris at the Department of Technology and Society, LU, are using. This is a future-oriented method which shares many features with classic scenario building but borrows narrative structures from fiction and the arts, and which are collaboratively written and open-ended. That way, it offers the recipient missing alternative futures, which is often considered important to achieve changed behaviour for transformative change. It also opens for discussions about the why, what and how in different scenarios: What’s worth protecting, and at what cost? What impact will our decisions have on people and the environment? Such questions can be put in perspective by telling stories.

BECC researchers have lately set up two major storyworld projects. Farväl Falsterbo is a soundwalk you can listen to anywhere, that introduces the listener to a teenager in 2100 and that leaves the listener to choose between two possible futures. Along the way you learn about different ways to adapt society and help reduce the damage caused by climate change. Carbon Ruins is the first exhibition in the landmark museum of the Swedish government opened in 2053, as a celebration of the fact that global net-zero emissions of carbon dioxide were reached in 2050. As a visitor you are transported into a future where the transition to post-fossil society has already happened, learning that it was not an easy path. The project has recently received more funding. The updated project, Beyond Dystopia, is produced for four regions in Sweden, each exhibition developed in collaboration with artists, museums, organisations, businesses and others.

Research on how culture influences our ways of thinking and acting is also conducted within BECC. One example is a project which investigates how biodiversity is portrayed in novels over the past 100 years. Given that nature experience and connection is well-documented to underpin general conservation interest, popular literature can be used as a thermometer of public knowledge of, and attitude towards nature.