In the twenty-first century, having a scientific understanding of the world, and post-industrial knowledge and competences, have become necessary tools for future employability opportunities and for making informed decisions that might have an impact on a global, local and individual level. Scientific and technological understanding, knowledge, competences and critical thinking have also become an important means to develop personal careers and to build fairer and better-informed societies.
This is especially important when faced with the fourth industrial revolution and in the context of a globalised digital world with an overabundance of information and fake news. The C4S point of departure is that the current context stresses the point in which providing equal opportunities and fostering quality formal and non-formal education, regardless of social, cultural, religious, sexual or geographical backgrounds, has become essential.
Nevertheless, existing social realities in the European context such as social segregation, poverty, racism, sexist practices, visible or invisible barriers for disabled citizens or other forms of discrimination, restrict the access in equal terms to scientific careers. Additionally, this context creates subtle barriers to children from a diversity of backgrounds when engaging in science education activities.
Children, as citizens, need to be well informed and be able to fully participate in current and future social and political issues, because asymmetries still exist in the ability of individuals to interact with and access science, creating inequalities in scientific and innovation outcomes and an ever more pressing need to promote responsible research and innovation.To do so, especially if they are members of vulnerable groups, it is essential that, as present and future citizens, they have full-fledged access in equal terms to science education.
The C4S project objectives are based upon three main pillars or goals:
Work with vulnerable communities by fostering science education in children and youths aged from 0-16 years old, and their families, through formal and non-formal pedagogical institutions.
Raise awareness at an institutional level (policy-makers, museum representatives, schools, associations, etc.), of some value-laden practices in science education activities and provide tools to redress such practices.
Promote engagement in inclusive science education - through the creation of working groups with scientists or science-related members of those vulnerable communities co-participating in different programmes to foster inclusive science education.
C4S is developed in 9 European cities (Milan -Italy-, Brussels -Belgium-, Manresa -Spain-, Vic – Spain-, Vienna -Austria-, Budapest -Hungary-, Sofia -Bulgaria-, Lund -Sweden- and Berlin -Germany) and their areas of influence. The activities are coordinated by a local Hub in 6 cities with the leadership of one of these local partners of the Consortium.
Each Hub focus on a specific vulnerable community (immigrants, Roma community and disabled citizens) working with and for children and youth aged from 0-16 years old and their families.
C4S studies the relationships between science and society by focusing upon vulnerable communities due to the fact that they are often not visible as active social agents. The project not only creates activities for them, but also includes them as co-participants of these activities in order to ensure a more coherent approach towards inclusive education and to promote anticipatory policy-making.
It is done through science education activities, through formal and non-formal educational institutions, from an inclusive standpoint, to provide them with better science awareness and capacities and to make them progressively aware of exclusionary practices that at times may occur in science.
Special emphasis is put on engaging them in an intersectional approach to fight against the gender discrimination suffered by women and girls on multiple levels.
Each HUB engages with policy-makers, educators and institutional representatives to promote their role in supporting and promoting an inclusive science education approach and to consolidate such inclusive practices on more solid grounds.
These science education activities and the inclusive-awareness campaigns addressed to policy-makers (policy awareness issues) foster co-working and co-designing actions with science experts from those vulnerable communities so that, additionally, they can act as alternative role models in science.
Therefore, the aim with this RRI approach is to promote Public Engagement (PE) by empowering vulnerable communities and by raising awareness of the less visible, and yet, real practices within the science world in which certain discriminatory values or practices are conveyed.