Thank you 2021!
2021 has been an exciting year for YouCount. In February, we met for our virtual kick-off meeting, aware that we were starting a process that involved a lot of planning, meeting and preparing for youth citizen social science. Ten months later, we are ready to begin a new phase of our project which involves actually doing youth citizen social science. During those months of planning and preparing, we encountered some challenges, like how to reward the work of young citizen scientists or how to work across multilingual contexts. As a way of wrapping up the year, we asked representatives of the main areas of work that structure our project to share a key insight, feeling or activity from this first year of work. Read on to find out what they shared!
Reidun Norvoll, Oslo Metropolitan University - Project Coordinator
"This has been an exciting and demanding year as a project coordinator. I feel very grateful to be given the opportunity to work with so many clever people in Europe. This is a gift from participating in an EU project. At the same time, YouCount is a large and complex project to coordinate. We are constantly working on the balance between the needs for structure versus a flexible and responsive design to secure inclusiveness and co-creation. Still, we are moving forward. I also look very much forward to next year where we will be working more actively on the local cases and evaluation study – together with local youths and stakeholders. It is going to be a very interesting year with a lot of new knowledge and experiences. Finally, thank you to all for the nice collaboration this year. Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year to come!"
Egle Butkevičienė, Kaunas University of Technology - Work Package on Developing the Framework and Stakeholder Mobilisation
"This year was so exciting regarding the ambition we had. I remember the quote from the brilliant book Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: "Alice asks the cat: 'Which road should I take?' In reply, the cat says: 'Where are you going?' To that, Alice says: 'I don't know.' 'Then it doesn't matter which road you take,' the cat says in response". It is so common that in the beginning of the road you are wondering which road to choose… The only difference was that we knew where we are going, which results we want to achieve. Still, there were many ways to choose… Thus, we tried to find the best possible road by creating a theoretical and methodological framework and tested it in workshops during 2021. We tried to set an innovative conceptual, evaluation and ethical framework that also involves data collection and analysis as the main roadmaps to guide our journey into 2022. We also started stakeholder mobilization by creating a virtual space to build a community of practice".
Julie Ridley, University of Central Lancashire - Work Package on Implementation of the Multiple Case Study
"The work package on multiple case study implementation brings together our plans for carrying out responsible research and innovation, for doing citizen social science using participatory methods and working co-creatively with young people who are facing several challenges in life. This year has seen the case teams busy backstage, designing, making the scenery and the props for co-creative citizen social science. Given that much of what we're doing pushes the boundaries of citizen science, there's a constant tension in planning between being flexible and consistent. We're working with set corner pieces of a jigsaw without being 100% clear what the full picture is going to look like, and with lots of the pieces still to be defined together with young citizen scientists. Our cases in a sense represent apples, pears, bananas, oranges, etc – all so very different but sharing a common genealogy. Act 2, the main implementation phase starting next year looks set to be very exciting!"
Sarah Juricek, University of Vienna - Work Package on Evaluation and Impact Assessment
"In 2021, we have been preparing the evaluation of YouCount. The evaluation framework was drafted and discussed with members and might be revised as we go along with the evaluation. We drafted guidelines for the self-reports of all cases and for the focus groups that each case will conduct. Further, we drafted a pre- and post-survey and are currently recruiting citizen scientists to co-create and finish the surveys for starting the evaluation. We are excited for the kick-off of the case studies in 2022, and continually striving to make the most out of the collaboration with young citizen scientists".
Patricia Canto, Deusto Foundation/Orkestra Basque Institute of Competitiveness - Work Package on Dissemination, Exploitation and Communication
"During 2021 we had to think through how we are going to share YouCount's activities, achievements and challenges with different communities at the global, national and local levels. We did that by drafting a first version of the project's dissemination, exploitation and communication (DEC) plan, which is a living document that will change as our young co-researchers become involved. We also worked on what words to use when we explain our project. This process of cocreating a shared language emerged when we designed a project leaflet with all partners to help us invite young people to join the project as citizen scientists. It also served as an insight of what it may be like when we engage in co-creative communication activities with our young co-researchers. We will have a chance to explore that in early 2022 when we work on our website. We are very much looking forward to that!"
So, it seems we're ready to go! Hopeful, excited, curious…