Science together: A workshop with young Tunisian researchers

In the frame of the 2nd Young Researchers Colloquium at Institut Pasteur de Tunis (IPT), the H2020 InSPIRES project organized a workshop entitled “Science with and for society“.

Twenty IPT students and postdocs participated in this workshop, as well as two civil society representatives from Jamaity (Tunisian CSO’s platform).

The objectives of this workshop were: to sensitize the participants to the concept “Science with and for the Society“; to encourage them to present their research in a simple and accessible way; and, finally, to help them evaluate the interest and the impact of their research on society.

During the workshop, Mrs Najet HADHRI, IPT RRI advisor of InSPIRES project, presented the concepts of “Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)” and “Science with and for society (Swafs)“.

In order to give concrete examples about these concepts, activities of the InSPIRES project and the IPT Science shop “Science together” were commented. Miss Amira Ghodhbene, the student who is working in the frame of the first Science Shop project, presented her work in co-creation with the laboratory of virology at IPT and the Tunisian Association for Information and Orientation on HIV/AIDS and Toxicomania (ATIOST).

Science with and for society

Then, the participants joined a binomial exercise to learn how to present their own research in an accessible way. During this exercise, Jamaity representatives shared their thoughts on how these researches were presented by the young participants and gave several recommendations. They insisted on the importance of knowing their interlocutors and their needs before presenting their research.

The participants appreciated the exchanges between them and members of civil society as well as the interactive exercise. They expressed their wish to exchange more with civil society actors, to be more aware of their needs.

The IPT science shop “Science Ensemble” has planned to organize similar trainings for IPT and Tunisian scientists.

This workshop was proposed and facilitated by the IPT Science Shop team as part of the European InSPIRES project, which aims to open the research process in a strategic way to civil society, focusing these efforts on research and innovation in the health and environment sectors.

For more information you can contact

Science Café on Animal-Assisted Therapy in Hungary

Our Science Café series on nature-inspired therapeutic approaches is on the move: in February the second event took place where we focused on a special type of animal-assisted therapy.

Here you can find more information about the previous Science Café and our new research agenda-setting process. 

Nearly 40 people joined us for a discussion about therapeutic sheep herding. Hadassa Jakabos, clinical psychologist developed a unique way to involve wild, not too socialised farm animals into her therapeutic work based on her own personal experiences. She had been learning the practice of herding from a real herder for 5 years and she perceived that the action of herding could actuate specific emotional states. During her lecture she displayed some videos to the audience in order to explain how she works with her extraordinary method on her farm in Gödöllő.

The audience asked several questions about the process of herding-therapy, the conditions for participating in this kind of therapy, the professional acknowledgement of the method and the opportunities for impact evaluation.

A short video was made about the event:

Our Science Café series is funded by the InSPIRES project.

19 June – Join the InSPIRES webinar: Impact Evaluation of Science Shops

Tuesday, 19th of June at 11 am: InSPIRES webinar dedicated to Impact Evaluation of Science Shops with David Rojas, researcher specialized in Health Impact Assessment, Risk Assessment and Burden of Disease at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGobal).

The InSPIRES EU project is delighted to welcome you to join the Webinar on Impact Evaluation of Science Shops on the 19th of June at 11h (CEST time).

Within the framework of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and Open Science and Innovation, Science Shops (SS) are evolving towards a higher collaboration between researchers and different stakeholders through inclusive and participatory methodologies during the different phases of the R&I process (i.e. during the research agenda setting, design and execution of projects, implementation, evaluation and dissemination). However, the impact evaluation methodologies have been not systematically implemented and harmonized between SS yet.

The InSPIRES project is exploring how SS can act as an interface for RRI implementation and is also developing, validating and integrating a new impact evaluation methodology for SS. In this webinar, the researcher reponsible for the impact evaluation of INSPIRES David Rojas, who is specialized in Health Impact Assessment, Risk Assessment and Burden of Disease at Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), will share with us an overview of the impact evaluation methods, the available tools and the future of impact evaluation for SS.”

We invite you to join this Inspires webinar and to participate in an interactive discussion. If you are interested, please send an email to and you will receive access to the online platform to join the webinar.


We also invite you to share your local best practices&ideas on Science Shops in a digital ideation challenge with the help of Be-novative software. Register and catch up with all the info on the Transformative Potential of Science Shops page or share your ideas right now!

Gerard Straver: “The people in the field and in the street inspire me”

Kick-of interview with Gerard Straver, InSPIRES Advisory Board member

When we ask Gerard Straver how Science Shops emerged, he thinks on May, 1968. He thinks on a time when students and researches wanted universities to be more open. A movement in Europe, and maybe worldwide. According to our interviewee, there was a germ there for the Science Shops idea, a germ that was later taken up in The Netherlands.

Gerard Straver (GS): Also in Wageningen, where I was a student, we had the wish to work with local people. Our discipline —Tropical Agriculture! — came from our colonial roots. But we, the students, said: “Well, we don’t want to learn about plantation crops, market crops… Coffee, tea, sugar cane. We also want to know about the crops that are important for the farmers. We want to know about farming systems which were developed during ages by the farmers theme selves. Probably they have found solutions for the problems we are now facing worldwide. So, I was in the movement: students that wanted to do research with and for farmers.

InSPIRES: That is how you got involved…

Gerard Straver: After I finished my studies, I had the chance to work in research projects with farmers, government agencies… I learned a lot. When I came back from a period abroad, I had the possibility to join the Science Shop, which was there already for a long time, and to contribute to its development with the ideas and experiences I brought from the field of international development cooperation.

InSPIRES: As you know well in agriculture, every entity comes from another one. We come because there was someone before us, right? We bring this to the conversation because our idea of calling our models “Science Shops 2.0”: Do you think it is accurate?

GS: It is not accurate; but I don’t think that it is very important. The “Science Shop 1.0” was not pre-defined from the beginning. We are trying together to define what is going on and how we can call it. Where do we want to go? It is not that we want to go in only one direction. Maybe we can develop a spectrum of different approaches adapted to different situations or different contexts. I don’t know if “Science Shop 2.0” is the best name, but it shows things can be done in a better way, in a different way. And we should learn from the things we have done already.

InSPIRES: Our project could follow its path…

GS: I think it is very important to be ambitious, to have the will to do something, to improve something in a constructive way. And for that reason, I think it is very good that a lot of attention is given to communication but also to impact evaluation. And to see to what extend Responsible Research and Innovation tools can be integrated in the concept. But it should not be a scientific definition: “Science Shops 2.0 is this; and if one of the criteria elements is not there, you are out”. It’s a developing model that we are constructing together.

InSPIRES: Gerard, how do you manage to be so positive toward beginners?

GS: Well, it’s my personal experience. When I started working in the Science Shop in Wageningen, there were plans to close down it. We had to change, of course, but happily enough, we got a new chance. It was thanks to the Dutch Living Knowledge network and the international LK network, that I could show the importance of doing this kind of research. We could convince the decision makers in my university to nurture it, to understand it would not give immediate benefits in terms of Euros but it would, in a long term, help students to learn important things.

InSPIRES: What about the idea of a mentor? A human that helps a human. Do you believe in it?

GS: I have been inspired by others and that increased my self-confidence. The idea of mentoring may help, and it is not very difficult. Because people do it themselves; but hey feel more comfortable when there is someone they can ask for help or for an advice. It makes things easier. A mentor could help someone who is hesitating “Should we develop a science shop in our institution? Where should we start? In the field or in the street, with the CSOs, with the directory board, or with the European Commission in Brussels?”

InSPIRES: Regarding our project, any first advice?

GS: Continue! I feel there is a good atmosphere. . The members of the InSPIRES team are all very constructive, positive and willing to learn. This is now the beginning and of course there will be hard moments. For example when project reports must be finalized.

InSPIRES: Where and doing what do you see yourself in five years?

GS: Ohh! (He smiles). That’s a difficult question. I have a lot of wishes, a lot of ideas. I want to help my three sons.

Now I have a colleague and we run the Science Shop together. I am very happy about this. But you can never say: “Okey, we are there and it is fine”. Every year and every day there are new challenges and you have to be active.

And besides, our Science Shop will soon be part of a very new department. Again, we have to re-invent the idea. This morning I received an invitation from my boss. The new department is going to be about “value creation”. Its objective will be to create more value with research. Economic value but also societal value.  For the coming three-four years this will be our new challenge. And what will I do then? … I don’t know (He laughs).

(Interview by Leonardo de la Torre, InSPIRES team)

9 May: Join the InSPIRES webinar with Norbert Steinhaus

9th of May at 3 pm: InSPIRES webinar dedicated to CSOs engagement with Norbert Steinhausboard member of Wissenschaftsladen Bonn (Bonn Science Shop) and coordinator of the Living Knowledge.

Within the framework of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and Open Science and Innovation, researchers are called to collaborate with different stakeholders through inclusive and participatory methodologies during the different phases of the R&I process (i.e.  during the research agenda setting, design and execution of projects, implementation, evaluation and dissemination). The project InSPIRES is exploring how Science Shops can act as an interface for RRI implementation.

Currently, those interfaces are organisations created as mediators between citizen groups (trade unions, pressure groups, non-profit organisations, social groups, environmentalists, consumers, residents association etc.) and research institutions (universities, independent research facilities). Science Shops are important actors in community-based research (CBR) and facilitate collaborative research projects based on concerns brought forward by society.

However, sometimes one of the first difficulties, specially for new established Science Shops, is to engage CSOs, to take them on board and to establish with them a win-win relationship based on trust.

In this webinar, Norbert Steinhaus, who is a board member of Wissenschaftsladen Bonn (Bonn Science Shop) since 1990 and coordinator of the Living Knowledge, will share with us his experience working with CSOs. He will present some inspiring examples of collaborations and will give some tips to fruitfully engage with them.

We invite you to join this Lunch Inspires Webinar and to participate in an interactive discussion.

Please send an email to, if you are interested and you will receive access to our online platform to join the webinar.

After hearing Norbert’s thoughts on CSO engagement, the stage is yours – We invite you to share your local best practices & ideas in a digital ideation challenge with the help of Be-novative software (Register & Catch up with all the info on the Transformative Potential of Science Shops page or Share your ideas right now!).

Nature-inspired therapeutic approaches – New research agenda setting process in Hungary

At ESSRG in the frame of the InSPIRES project, our overall objective is to generate dialogue among the relevant sectors and prepare a novel research agenda on green care services, therapeutic approaches which integrate the power of nature. In Western and Northern Europe green care is an emerging sector, whereas, in Hungary, this concept is nearly unknown. Interestingly, some health and social care providers have already been offering this kind of services.

At the first stage of the research agenda-setting process, we attempted to map those Hungarian initiatives, organisations and experts who apply alternative, green care services to people who struggle with mental health challenges. We have been conducting semi-structured interviews with several knowledge holders. During this process, we found unique initiatives, for instance, an expert in psychopedagogy who developed a connection-centred animal-assisted therapy, a clinical psychologist who invented herding-therapy or a group of professional cavers who have been holding cave therapy sessions to children with special needs for almost 20 years. In parallel, we have been organising Science Cafés to introduce these initiatives to a broader audience, to identify further relevant stakeholders and to initiate dialogue around research needs in a participatory way.

In January we organised our first Science Café discussion. More than 40 participants listened to the psychologist Noémi Pieke’s thought-provoking lecture about her connection-centred animal-assisted therapeutic method. Noémi highlighted the differences between the traditional animal-assisted therapy and her approach, then described the way how she works with the establishing relationship between her clients (mostly children with Asperger’s syndrome) and her therapeutic animals.

The presentation followed by discussion. The audience was interested in the process of choosing and preparing animals for therapeutic work, the ongoing psychological dynamics during the sessions and the dog and small animal therapist training led by Noémi and her colleague Hadassa Jakabos (who was our guest at our second event in February).

Here you can watch a short video about the event:

InSPIRES first webinar dedicated to RRI

It’s not only about selecting or “mapping” different stakeholders, is not only about involving researchers or recruiting students, “the challenge is engaging them in the process, making them feel empowered to play their part”, said Dr. Pim Klaassen to the auditorium of InSPIRES project’s first webinar on the topic of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) (January the 30th, 2018)

And the burden of that collective engagement should be on the researchers, convened Prof. dr. Jacqueline Broerse and Dr. Frank Kupper, experts that have participated in the development of the RRI conceptual framework and shared their experiences at the webinar. Organized by Prof. dr. Marjolein Zweekhorst and her team at VU Amsterdam, this webinar showed how InSPIRES project aims to build capacities among existing networks of researchers and new players.

How do new ideas travel?

For Prof. dr. Broerse, RRI is the most important way of doing research, at least that kind of research that seeks for a real impact on society. This speaker even described RRI as a way to approach to local knowledge in fragile states. For Dr. Kupper, RRI is mainly about dialogue; and for Dr. Klaassen, the framework is “a big challenge ahead of us”. Acknowledging it’s often quite hard to engage people in this open and dialogical way of doing research, Dr. Klaassen thinks on RRI as “a promise which I hope we can actually help come true”.

Unfortunately, repeating these messages does not change researcher’s attitudes. As, remembered by Dr. Kupper, ideas do not travel like packages that can be easily poured into somebody’s mind. Actors should see what’s on it for them. These research practices could meet their needs of performing good research.

Vocation and training

RRI can also activate a memory about researchers’ vocation. Many of them started their careers because they wanted to make a meaningful contribution.  Answering Dr. Zweekhorst questions, the webinar experts affirmed that nowadays, if someone can do this type of research that someone is a student. Students are in the process of developing routines and mastering these forms of thinking. Of course, experts also remembered, transformation should not only be at the individual level but also at institutional level.

The webinar also pointed out several expectations that the InSPIRES awakens.

The project’ impact evaluation strategy with the support of the “Reflexive monitoring” notion was positively valued, as well as the its training plan, that will offer new webinars and summer schools. Much to do in order to make these kinds of encounters happen.

You can see the video at this link

A cup of coffee “After the End of the World”

(Setting by engineer and artist Natalie Jeremijenko, Estaciò Ciutat, CCCB) It was heavily raining on that Saturday and was yet not sure that we would be able to maintain our event of the day after. But on Sunday, November the 5th, we woke up to a clear blue sky. Although it was cold outside, we did carry on with our first “Science Café”.

Way before the starting time, we wanted to ensure the setting did not look too formal. Proudly, we offered coffee because it was impossible to have a Science Café without it, wasn’t it? And people started arriving.

First, a short explanation on the project’s desire of organizing a series of Scientific Cafés inside the artistic exhibition called “After the End of the World”, and then our first expert was called to scene. Dr. David Rojas, ISGlobal researcher on Air Pollution and Health, is one of those scientists that move outside their comfort zone, usually reaching out to civil society. David is also InSPIRES’s impact evaluation coordinator.

David triggered the most animated part of the event. During a bit more than one hour, a deep exchange of questions and answers between the participants took place: “600 premature deaths a year related with air pollution in Barcelona”; “Thousands of children live less than a kilometre away from their schools and they go there by car”; “How to take them away from those cars?”; “Forbidding without offering alternative solutions does not work”.

It is now with great motivation and illusion that our team is waiting for the second Science Café (December 2017) for another discussion between researchers, environmental associations and the general public on the topic of Transport and Health.

InSPIRES will close each of these events explaining what a Science Shops is and hoping to gather social concerns from the participants. The Science Shops research approach is not well known in Spain, and great effort is needed to stimulate the demand. The exhibition organized by the Centre for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona is undoubtedly a great opportunity for InSPIRES to get known in Barcelona and hopefully contribute to strengthen the link between community and the public research sector.

InSPIRES Project: New communities invited

InSPIRES partners are working to implement their Science Shop projects

“Our people is happy when we ask them to share their experience”, says Hichem Ben Hassinne, Institut Pasteur de Tunis. Through an on-line form in French and Arab generated with Tunisian NGOs and released a couple of weeks ago, this InSPIRES partner has already collected 24 questions that could kick-off several Science Shop projects. InSPIRES partners have also reported enthusiastic feedback in Bolivia, Hungary, The Netherlands, Italy, France, and Spain. InSPIRES is the Acronym for the project “Ingenious Science shops to promote Participatory Innovation, Research and Equity in Science”, launched in April 2017 (EU grant agreement No. 741677).

The project’s first Work Package called “to stage” has been leaded by the Environmental Social Science Research Group (ESSRG, Hungary). With the support of all the inspiring partners, ESSRG is trying to understand the past and history of Science Shops “from a transformative social innovation point of view”. Different narratives and stories have been collected in more than 45 interviews already conducted and 20 additional planned with established European Science Shops and other community based or participatory research and innovation initiatives. This baseline has been identified as crucial by Athena Institute–Vrije Universiteit (The Netherlands), partner that will lead InSPIRES WP3: Development and Piloting of new Science Shop Models and Methods (“Science Shops 2.0”).

InSPIRES partners are working to implement their Science Shop projects. Consortium’s leader ISGlobal (Barcelona Institute for Global Health) has started with an impact evaluation request on children’s “active transportation” and health, as well as a study on access to diagnosis and treatment for Chagas Disease among migrants living in Zaragoza. Chagas will also take the first Science Shop in Bolivia where partner CEADES (Ciencia y Estudios Aplicados para el Desarrollo en Salud y Medio Ambiente) will lead master students to questions raised in one rural Municipality.

Athena Institut (Amsterdam) and InSPIRES Implementation WP’s leader, IrsiCaixa (Barcelona), are working on HIV/Aids to develop research agenda priority settings for this topic. Both partners explore the possibility to organize a joint Transnational and Trans-disciplinary Science Shop project. ESSRG and Université de Lyon (UdL) are also exploring around a similar topic: social innovation initiatives. UdL, InSPIRES Education WP’s leader has received 15 new CSO’s demands.

UNIFI, exploring Science Shops opportunities on different topics (urban gardening with advance technology, diabetes and the perception of science in the society), has already launched its web page ( and will host the project next internal training meeting in November, 2017. Information about future InSPIRES activities, including webinars in several topics and languages, will be shared with LK members.

Co-creation, Collaboration, Community: The InSPIRES Kick-Off Meeting

The words projected on the wall were big, and getting bigger. A few minutes earlier, we had been asked to think about the topic “Science Shops 2.0

Co-creation. Collaboration. Community. The words projected on the wall were big, and getting bigger. Innovation. Change. A few minutes earlier, we had been asked to think about the topic “Science Shops 2.0”. Work networks. Interactive, inclusive processes. Gradually, we developed a definition. Commitment. Digital project. As the words were fed into an interactive presentation program, the concepts that received the most votes started expanding to take up more and more space. Democratisation of science. Impact. Dynamic activities like this one, led by Marjolein Zweekhorst (Athena Institute, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam), were the order of the day at the kick-off meeting of Ingenious Science shops to promote Participatory Innovation, Research and Equity in Science (InSPIRES). 

InSPIRES is a multidisciplinary research project that brings together scientists and the public to tailor research to social needs. The kick-off meeting, held on 9-12 May 2017 at CaixaForum in Barcelona, was attended by representatives of the project’s Advisory Board: Colombe Warin (Project Advisor, European Commission), Maria Karamitrou (Policy Officer, European Commission), Itziar de Lecuona (UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, University of Barcelona), Gerard Straver (Science Shops Manager, Wageningen University) and Belén Perat (”la Caixa” Foundation).

The meeting was the first opportunity for the InSPIRES team to get to work on the project and participate in team-building exercises. In addition to the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), which is coordinating the project, the team includes the Environmental Social Science Research Group (Hungary), Université de Lyon (France), Athena Institute–Vrije Universiteit (Netherlands), Università degli Studi di Firenze (Italy), IrsiCaixa (Spain), Institut Pasteur de Tunis (Tunisia), and Ciencia y Estudios Aplicados para el Desarrollo en Salud y Medio Ambiente (Bolivia).

The first science shops were set up 40 years ago by universities in the Netherlands to carry out scientific research prompted by questions asked by citizens and civil society. The model has largely been developed by members of the Living Knowledge Network, who are based in 21 different European countries. InSPIRES has received funding from Horizon 2020, the European Union’s research and innovation programme, on the strength of its proposal to “build effective cooperation between science and society by supporting the growth of Science Shops and furthering the expansion of responsible participatory research and innovation in Europe and abroad in order to tackle key societal challenges that affect the world population”.

A Collaborative Dinner

While some guests sautéed vegetables for the paella, Advisory Board members followed a chef’s instructions to prepare romesco sauce. Doctors learned to flip a Spanish omelette, and researchers learned how to caramelise the sugar on a crema catalana. A normal dinner just wouldn’t be right for InSPIRES. The experience was conceived as an exercise in participative collaboration in the kitchen of a specially equipped restaurant in Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella.

From one cooking project we moved on to another. InSPIRES is also a project being prepared step by

step involving collaboration, patience and creativity at every stage. Over the course of three days, InSPIRES’s principal investigator (María Jesús Pinazo of ISGlobal and Hospital Clínic de Barcelona) and project manager (Anne-Sophie Gresle of ISGlobal) facilitated a discussion that allowed the group to confirm or redirect the project’s various proposals.

A Role-Play Activity to Foster Commitment

In this activity, a group of participants were asked to use their imagination: “Let’s pretend you’re an association of families in Bolivia affected by Chagas disease.” Turning to one member of the group, the trainer said, “You’re the president of the association.” He then continued around the room: “You’re a political activist who is tired of scientists approaching one underprivileged group after another, only to disappear after publishing a paper about them. And you’re a relative of a patient who needs a pacemaker but can’t afford it. And you’re a practitioner who has been working with the association.” Then, turning to the rest of the participants, he said: “Okay, scientists, what do you have to say to these people?”

The trainer, Davy Lorans (University of Lyon), has been with the project since its inception. By exposing us to this sort of situation, he helped create an open, empathetic mindset as we started building the project.

Much work lies ahead. How can we reach vulnerable groups who do not recognise themselves as such? Can we co-create a research process working together with these groups? How can we successfully spread the reflections prompted by these methodologies throughout the scientific community? These questions—and others—are commitments on the InSPIRES agenda. 

InSPIRES receives funding from Horizon 2020, the European Union’s research and innovation programme (project number: 741677). This article reflects the author’s point of view. The European Commission is not responsible for its content.