The main theme of PCST 2023 is ‘Creating Common Ground’.

This theme signifies the role and value of science communication as boundary work that connects scientists, engineers, policymakers, business leaders and citizens. It also points to the role of science communication to enable collaboration and co-creation of knowledge, but also dialogue, debate and critique about how science is applied in society.

Creating (or finding) common ground demands letting go of egos and status and showing empathy. However, creating common ground between multiple role players, for example scientists and citizens, or researchers and practitioners, can be challenging in a world in which common ground is often far from obvious. It also means being willing to accept constructive criticism. Therefore, the theme also invites us to explore cases where common ground may not be feasible or desirable.

Guided by the overarching theme of ‘creating common ground’, the PCST scientific committee will look for proposals that resonate with a number of sub-themes, namely: Values, Openness, Inclusivity, Collaboration and Expertise. Jointly, the five sub-themes form the acronym ‘VOICE’.

Values: In interactions between scientists, science communicators and other societal actors, different interests and values play an important role and influence dialogue and opinion forming. The question is how, in what way, and to what end?

Openness: Opening up the research process by sharing and using all available knowledge through collaborative networks, as well as making scientific research publicly available are laudable aims. But, to what extent can and should we open up?

Inclusiveness: In both science and society, equity, diversity and inclusion have become important themes. Whether on the basis of sex, gender, abilities, cultural or social background, how do we steer effectively towards more equitable practices in science and society?

Collaboration: Working in science communication is not possible without collaboration in all kinds of forms. It can be multidisciplinary or transdisciplinary, and include a wide variety of participants. What are the challenges and benefits of collaboration and co-creating to solve complex socio-scientific issues?

Expertise: Based on the expertise of scientists and their research, societal challenges have been defined and solutions are being developed. But what does this expertise entail exactly, and how do we deal with scientists’ (perceived) loss of authority, credibility, and trustworthiness?