Overline: Potsdam Summer School 2019
Headline: Connecting Science and Society

How can scientific insights be integrated more effectively into society? This year’s Potsdam Summer School (PSS) will explore the role of science communication from 20 to 29 August. In what ways and via which channels can topics related to sustainability and global change be effectively communicated?

Impression von der Potsdam Summer School
An impression from the Potsdam Summer School: Participants from all over the world gather on the IASS campus. IASS/ David Ausserhofer

With its overarching theme “Connecting Science & Society”, this year’s Potsdam Summer School is the latest in the transdisciplinary and interactive event series that has been held annually in Potsdam since 2014. The ten-day Summer School will start on Tuesday, 20 August with an introduction to all 46 participants (9:30–11:00), followed by talks that delve into this year’s topic by two representatives of the scientific world. In the morning, earth and atmospheric scientist Professor Mark Lawrence from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam will get the ball rolling in his talk on science communication (11:30–12:30), and in the afternoon, the astrophysicist and TV presenter Professor Harald Lesch from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich will take up where Lawrence left off in a talk on “Society, Science & Language” (16:00–17:30).

PSS stands for international and interdisciplinary exchange

From a total of around 200 applicants, 46 people from different parts of the world were selected to participate in this year’s Summer School. They have diverse professional backgrounds and range in age between 23 and 48. In Potsdam, they will come together with international sustainability researchers and have the opportunity to work together with them to develop communication strategies for different target groups over the course of the ten-day PSS programme. The strategies will encompass both reactive public relations and proactive communications via traditional and new media.

Since the sharing of interdisciplinary knowledge and expertise is highly relevant, the following questions will guide the ten-day programme: How can scientists reach out to audiences from all parts of society? Can all sustainability topics be communicated in the same way? Should scientists become advocates or maintain a neutral stance? How can the credibility of scientific findings be strengthened?

Science communication ambassadors

This year’s Summer School will focus on “Communicating Research on Sustainability and Global Change”. The aim is to bring together talented early-career scientists and young professionals operating in the private sector, governmental agencies and non-governmental organisations from many different parts of the world to discuss frontier (research) questions on future sustainable development. We also hope to train science communication ambassadors eager to engage with various sections of the public back in their home countries.

In this context, the Potsdam Summer School offers the participants a unique opportunity to foster international cooperation and interdisciplinary exchange. In addition to talks, workshops and discussions, a visit to the Media Tech Hub in Potsdam Babelsberg is planned. And at an evening event at the Wissenschaftsetage on 26 August, some 45 pupils from Potsdam will meet the 45 PSS participants.

The 2019 Potsdam Summer School is organised jointly by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and the University of Potsdam in cooperation with Geo.X, the research network for geosciences in Berlin and Potsdam, and Potsdam, the Capital City of Brandenburg. Experts from national and international institutes and organisations contribute to the Summer School programme.

The PSS programme can be found here: https://potsdam-summer-school.org/programme/

Programme Flyer