After months of preparatory work on data management plans, literature reviews, methodological frameworks, stakeholder mapping exercises, website and social media presence, and much more, YouCount is now heading into a more practical, hands-on phase. In some countries, researchers and young citizen scientists are already working together on their case studies, and others are soon to follow. A couple of weeks ago the partner organisations got together on Zoom for their second consortium meeting since the project started in February. We check in with YouCount's project manager, Reidun Norvoll, to see how things are going.
I'm constantly learning new things from the many clever people that are involved in YouCount.This is quite a gift you get from being the project manager of such an EU project. Apart from learning much about citizen science, I'm really starting to see the potential of including young people in research and innovation, and that this can be a true win-win situation for researchers and young people alike. I have also learned a lot about project coordination on an EU level, and how the project needs to be structured. This might sound like the most 'boring' part of a project, but it's crucial if we are to produce top quality collaborative research in sustainable working conditions. We're working in a large and complex project, with many people involved in different countries and across diverse case studies. This size and complexity bring opportunities for generating unique new knowledge and research collaboration across Europe. But it also comes with challenges in coordinating and keeping up communications with all participants.
One challenge is related to YouCount's ambition of researchers and young people working alongside each other in every stage of the research process. How do we do that when our young citizen scientists have not yet been formally recruited? The challenge of doing co-creative citizen science is amplified in an EU project where we are working across countries and in English, which is not the native language of most participants, who may have had very little contact with research and science so far in their lives. For this, we need to be creative and use different approaches where we for example invite experienced young people to dialogical events on the project level and combine this with dialogues with local youths in the target communities. We need to make YouCount an empowering experience for them, which will inspire more local youths to take part in science and society discussions based from their own perspectives.
Get involved! If you come from academic, business, non-governmental and government organizations working with youth social inclusion, social innovations or citizen science – please join our community of interest. The community is going to be a space for exploring opportunities for collaboration, mutual learning and for identifying synergies. We are currently running a series of free webinars, for discussing challenges we are facing as our project unfolds. Nearly 70 participants joined our first webinar to share their ideas; and many of them were young people. The next takes place on 21st October and will focus on methodologies and evaluation. Our social media channels and our website are other ways to keep in touch; as is, of course, this Blog. At the local level, partners will actively promote engagement with their own country case study through a variety of means, depending on their own context
The next meeting, the next webinar –every new interaction with colleagues and young participants is so rewarding. I think it's fascinating to see how the project is continuously evolving, growing organically in different directions, like a tree. All the national cases share a common root system, drawing nutrients from previous research and practices; they form a collective trunk in studying and fostering social inclusion through co-creative citizen social science; but then they branch out from the trunk, looking into different dimensions of inclusion – social belonging, citizenship, social participation – each with its own intricate system of smaller branches, twigs and leaves. And, just like the tree, YouCount is part of a much larger societal ecosystem, where we need to take into account and interact with many different stakeholders, for our own and their benefit.
The autumn has arrived. After an unusual warm autumn, this week is going to be cold with freezing temperatures in the mountains. Winter is just around the corner... Good that we have warm houses in Norway!