Overline: Fellowship
Headline: #FactoryWisskomm Fellow to Tread New Ground in Science Communication with Podcast

The sheer wealth of information and fast pace of modern life can make it difficult for researchers to engage policymakers in dialogue. A new fellowship established at the RIFS offers researchers the opportunity to explore developments in science communication targeting political decision-makers. The fellowship is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and is part of the #FactoryWisskomm platform established by the BMBF to promote science communication. The inaugural FactoryWisskom Fellow will be Sébastien Vannier of the Centre Marc Bloch, a Franco-German research centre for social sciences and humanities in Berlin, who plans to launch a podcast on sustainability research and policymaking.

Sébastien Vannier will produce a podcast during his fellowship at the RIFS.
Sébastien Vannier will produce a podcast during his fellowship at the RIFS. Simon Brunel

The science communicator is delighted at the prospect of both developing a new podcast and studying its efficacy and impact. “Podcasts have become increasingly popular vehicles for communication for scientific institutions – but why exactly is this? Which methods, styles, and formats are successful? What is the best way to facilitate conversations with and among guests? What do the listeners get out of podcasts? With the support of my many colleagues, this fellowship is the perfect opportunity to explore how podcasts can improve communication between science and politics," explains Vannier.

The podcast will offer policymakers a space to speak with researchers about their findings and consider their implications for the political moment and policy development. The programmatically titled podcast – "Science & Politics in Conversation" – aims to help help guests and listeners alike to better understand others’ points of view and share perspectives.

The series will take up a range of questions, such as: What do science and politics expect from each other? Where do science and politics intersect despite operating on different time scales? How can the two find a common language? To what extent should scientists involve themselves in politics? In the first episode, Almut Neumann, City Councillor for Public Order, the Environment, Nature, Streets and Green Spaces in Berlin-Mitte, and Dirk von Schneidemesser, an expert on mobility at the RIFS, will talk about the mobility and traffic transitions. In the second episode, Maximilian Funke-Kaiser, Digital Policy Spokesman of the FDP Parliamentary Group will speak with RIFS scientist Stefanie Kunkel, who is an expert on digital sustainability.

The podcast’s primary goal is to forge a direct dialogue between the two worlds of science and politics. The findings of science and the challenge of integrating them into political decision-making processes will take centre-stage here. During their fellowship, Vannier also intends to cast a critical eye on the format and evaluate its efficacy as a tool for addressing political actors.

The podcast will be available on the RIFS website and popular streaming services such as Spotify and iTunes.

The second call for applications for the #FactoryWisskomm Fellowship is now open. The fellowship will be awarded for a period of up to six months, beginning in the first quarter of 2024 at the earliest. Applications must be submitted by 11 February 2024. Further information is available here (in German).