Incubator project: Sustainable governance talks without jargon

This incubator project aims to bridge academia and practitioners through panel sessions and presentations in a “Sustainable Governance Without Jargon” day.

Core idea

During this day, selected practitioners are invited to present about their work, and then engage with PhD students in a jargon-free scientific discussion. Practitioners and PhDs will exchange ideas on given research topics, taking in each sides’ experiences and different perspectives while making the link with real-world problems. All speakers will be required to explain their works and researches in an understandable language to a broader audience outside of their usual circle (for example, master and bachelor students from different issue-areas, and/or other professionals interested in the topics). To guarantee this, at least one bell will be placed in the audience. Whenever a technical term or jargon is used, the audience can ring the bell so that whoever is presenting must stop and re-explain his/her point in simpler terms. Through this process, PhDs are expected to learn how to efficiently communicate their research to audiences from various backgrounds while also increasing the societal impact of their research.

Coffee breaks will allow academics, practitioners, and general audience attending the event to interact and network among themselves. These informal interactions are intended to connect PhD students from different research groups that work in related topics, between researchers and practitioners based on a mutual understanding of their work and the contrast between their perspectives, and between panellists and professionals from other sectors due to the simplification of the language and a focus on the relevance of their work for the general public.

Prior to the event, we plan to do scoping visits to enable the engaging of relevant practitioners. In these visits, the PhDs related to a given topic will be able to get to know more about practitioners’ scope of work whilst explaining to practitioners the potential mutual benefit in connecting with researchers. These visits then have three aims, which are to ensure common focus between the invited practitioners and the PhDs themes, to allow for closer interaction between PhDs and practitioners working in the same issue, and to guarantee a fruitful discussion in the event.

A concluding document will gather the lessons from this novel method of connecting PhDs with practitioners, and reflections on whether this could be recommended as a way to enrich the development of PhDs in the cluster.

Research and societal relevance

  • Enhancing the societal impact of the PhDs research in the cluster by providing an opportunity to present it in simple terms to a wider scope of audience.
  • Enriching the perspective of PhDs about their research topic with the perspective and feedback from practitioners in related areas
  • Exploring the value of promoting interaction between PhDs and practitioners within the same topic.
  • Connecting PhDs working under related topics in different research groups within WCSG and learning from the different perspectives that different research groups provide to related topics.
  • Promoting the cluster as a leading research group in sustainable governance.
  • Expanding the cluster network with practitioners outside the boundaries of Wageningen University & Research.

Timeline of Planned Activities

We are proposing to conduct a pilot to test and improve the methodology, 3 visits, and 3 panels (organized in 1 day of Sustainable Governance without Jargon). A tentative timeline for this is as follows:

No. Date Themes (tentative) PhD in charge Invited practitioners
1 September - October 2019 Pilot visit and panel: Sustainable Cities Sayel - Nila Gemeente Wageningen
2 November 2019 to February 2020 Visits to practitioners related to the following topics: Food and Urban Nexus, Sustainable Tourism, Sustainable Land-use Management Teams for each visit: Eva and Moises, Taufik and Tabitha, Mekdi and Pamela Potential organizations to contact for visits: Gemeente Amsterdam, Gemeente Rotterdam, UNFCCC
3 March 2020 Sustainable Governance without Jargon Day Various PhDs Organizations visited
4 April - May 2020 Finalizing report

Open invitation

The panel will extend the invitation to bachelor and master students through WUR students association, Wageningen municipality, other PhD clusters, the PhD council, and international students associations. The panel sessions will also be promoted through Facebook events and other social media channels.