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The international project

Date interview: November 6 2015
Name interviewer: Jens Dorland
Name interviewee: Science Shop coordinator (leader/manager) (SSC)
Position interviewee: Science Shop coordinator

Positive side-effects Other initiatives New Framing Networking Interpersonal relations International networks ICT tools Formalizing Emergence Competence development

This is a CTP of initiative: Living Knowledge ‐ Science Shop DTU (Denmark)

Prior to this CTP Science Shop DTU dit no have formal connection to any international network, it was only loosely defined as part of the science shop movement, even though they were inspired by the Dutch model:  

We were inspired by the Dutch model, and had visited them several times 10-15 years earlier. This renewed international collaboration happened I occasion of an American who visits the Danish science shops, who also have connection in the Netherlands, and probably also related to some of the events in the EU commission.  

The renewed international meeting started in 1997-1998 between Dutch, Danish and other community based researchers about strengthening international cooperation among science shops. This coincided with a dialogue with an officer in the EU Commission about the possibility of funding an international project within the STRATA scheme. This meant that they got the possibility to have a new activity in the science shop, and gave them resources:  

It just meant that we got the opportunity for a new activity. And we could have research in the science shop. We resumed the international connections, but more consolidated this time. It gav some resources, and employee… cannot remember how many. Had one hired for 0.5-1 year to do interviews with CA and a ranger of others.  

In 1999-2001 the first international science shop project, SCIPAS, were running. It was about modes and impacts of science shops and establishment of an international network and an international journal. In 2001 this culminated in the first international science shop conference, Living Knowledge 1, as part of SCIPAS project. The international network of science shops, Living Knowledge, was established at the end of the conference.  

This CTP is thus a process taking place from 1997-2001, and the core/culmination of it is the establishment of the Living Knowledge network in 2001.  

On a side note for this interview, the informant (SSC) draws a lot on documents from the time, which are very plentiful. This means that this CTP is more precise that many of the other CTPs.


Actors of relevance  

The EU commission.

Although a bit unclear how contact was established, but an EU officer became very keen on the science shop movement to apply for EU funds and establishing a network.  

The person in question in the EU could link to some specific formulations about the role of citizens. Sometime later, in extension of that project, these formulations appear in a European research program, which can give access to some research funding.  

So, an officer in the European commission entered into a dialogue about the possibility of funding an international project. So a range of staff from science shops in Europe went together after a conference to discuss the first project application. And the first project led to another project, and so on:  

One the project has led to the next, there has been some kind of sympathy in the EU, so there was always a project proposal to support this community and the science shops. But there was never any money for operations, it was mostly for exchanging experiences.  

An American professor, Richard Sclove, who also had connection to the Danish Board of Technology noticed the Danish science shops as he already had connections to the science shop movement in the Netherlands and community-based research units in the US. Richard Sclove connected Henk Mulder, the coordinator of Science Shop Groningen, with SSC, the coordinator of Science Shop DTU.  

We were 4-5 guys sitting in Dick Sclove’s summerhouse in the forest of Massachusetts in connection with a conference about community research, where we tried to build up the project.  

Henk Mulder, head of a science shop in Gronningen, was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the international network.  

Norbert Steinhaus from Science Shop Bonn was the third driving force in the network, together with Henk and SSC. Norbert became manager of the webpage of the international network. He also became the editor of the magazine for the Living Knowledge network.  

Conditions and societal developments It seems that there was a general interest in the European commission at the same for this type of work, as they had a project proposal coming up coincided with the time that Richard Sclove put a range of actors from different science shops together.

Related events

There are many related events, especially the range of EU project running in relation to the Living Knowledge network, but also earlier events in international collaboration.  

Earlier events The Dutch science shops had a big yearly conference, which SSC think had a impact:  

The Dutch science shops had this big yearly conference, I think it also had a role in making the concept visible (for the European commission)  

In 1996, Science Shop DTU organises a Nordic conference on democracy and knowledge, which coincided with the new international collaboration and contact with the Dutch science shops.  

I got to know Henk through the Nordic conference on democracy, or maybe his colleague, anyway at least at link was created to them. So in some way we become visible on the map for science shops, it has been more than 10 years since we were down there after all. So the staff in many of them had probably changed, and we had never been in Groningen either (where Henk is form).  

The conference were funded through the Danish Tips and Lotto funds, so the Danish national context also had some influence here.  

Later events

In 2002-2004 EU funded the INTERACTS project with focus on social science analysis of local science shop projects. SSC had to draw in Søsser, the interviewee for CTP 5 and 6 for this local initiative:  

MS (anonymous partner) from Austria tried to set up a project (INTERACTS), but I am told that I need to put myself as manager, as MS doesn’t have the right profile. But wow there was a lot of work in it. I just had Søsser and some of her fellow students in an exam project, so I took in Søsser for 1-1.5 in the start to work on the project (described in the next CTP).  

In 2003-2005 EU funded the ISSNET-project with focus on developing the international electronic infrastructure and printed materials about science shops. The 2nd Living Knowledge conference was into the project.  

2005-2008 EU funded the TRAMS project enabling experienced science shops’ training and mentoring of new science shop initiatives. This also developed an on-line tool box for science shops.   2010-2014 EU funded the PERARES project as the first EU-funded MML-project with focus on influencing national research programs and training and mentoring of new science shops. In the project were funding for supporting new science shops, which led to a new wave of science shops being established, mostly in southern and eastern Europe.  

It is also crucial to note that the next CTP, the coming of SB as a staff, were directly dependent on this CTP, as one of these EU projects partially funded her position and PhD in the science shop.


There was little or no direct contestation locally at the universities, against having the international collaboration. Logically there would be no opposition to the possibilities of extra funding from the EU, on the contrary, universities have been pushing researchers to drag more EU funding home. The establishment of Living Knowledge did not imply any cost for the local science shops or their host universities.  

However, there were contestation against Science Shop DTU in general at the time. There were cuts in funding around the turn of the millennia, and when the colleague of SSC died unexpectedly; his position was no filled again. However, SSC did try different things:  

I made search to get an article in “Sletten” (the campus newspaper), around 98-99. I could maybe have tried to spread the good stories more widely. However, we did have some procedure to send around “Anvendt viden” (the national science shop magazine) and “Living Knowledge” (the international network newsletter, however that was some year later) to the university senate and the institute.  

There was also some attempt of influence, although not direction contestation, in relation to this CTP with the EU. It was mostly between the network and the EU commission where Living Knowledge tried to affect European project calls. Specifically they tried to insert science shops, citizen science, and community based research as part of the European research frameworks. However, this contestation is not related to, or at last far removed from, Science Shop DTU and the other local science shops.


As the process of starting the first international project and establishing Living Knowledge ran over 3-4 years, it was or at least became anticipated. How early it was anticipated is hard to say.  

I do not remember when these opportunities start appearing. I knew Dick Sclove already. We had the conference in 96-97, and there some things happened. We applied in the summer of 99.  

So from the first Nordic conference held by Science Shop DTU on democracy and knowledge in 1997, having a continued international collaboration was highly anticipated. However, around the establishment it was definitely not part of the future vision of Science Shop DTU:  

I did at this time not have any time to think about anything. I was mostly concerned in relation to the ministry of education, if we should try to keep below the radar, so we did not risk being forced into a model with enforced business-relationships. So, the time was not there for thinking in international projects.  

And following the first international project, there was initially not any anticipation of follow-up projects either:  

The idea was that there should be a network (idea of the first project), but we had not considered additional projects. But there was a request quite quickly after that… I won the award for the best presentation after all. We came with a last contribution that pointed at the strategic importance for the science shops internally, so we had a conference paper. The expectation was to exchange experiences. There was no anticipation of what it would mean in our daily practice, but later the ISSNET project came – how can you have partnerships in an affordable way.

Expected implication of the CTP at the time

SSC draws on text he wrote in 2001 as participant in SCIPAS on what they expected at the time.   

  • Increased visibility and accessibility: They expected for science shops to become more publicly visible and accessible to clients, as well as opening avenues of support from stakeholders. ·     
  • Improved documentation and evaluation: Standardization of documents and protocols should provide new science shops with support more easily. ·        
  • Dissemination of results: Disseminating research outcomes more widely, and information on emerging subjects can be compiled and communicated to policy makers and (other) research institutes. ·        
  • Collaboration: Collaboration yields synergy and helps utilise previous experience. Studies that are more comprehensive can be done. Citizen group driven studies on transnational issues become more practicable. Science shop policy and strategies will also benefit from co-operation. ·        
  • Quality control: A network enables standardisation in documenting, evaluating, archiving and retrieving science shop research results.  

The expected implications of the CTP thus relates to different aspects, some of them relating to the existing local initiatives, some of them to the international network and collaboration, and some of them to possible new initiatives.  

Understanding of the CTP in hindsight

The Living Knowledge network turned out to be of critical importance for the local science shops in different ways, in funding, in knowledge sharing, support from like-minded colleagues, increased legitimacy through belonging to an international network. All of the expected outcomes did materialize in varying degrees, however the increased legitimacy was not mentioned at the time, or the support from like-minded colleagues.


One of the learnings were the outcome of the project, which was more of different than expected at the time:  

I think it was very interesting, and we dug op some models, there were not a lot, but we did dig up a few. Several things from Europe in general, some from CA in Romania, and we got some focus on student competences, not a whole lot, but it gave more than I had thought about at the time.  

Some of the models were described in the project reports. The interview is light on specific details, and how and if the models were used.  

The projects also gave new opportunities that were not part of the initial purpose:  

It gave some project opportunities, it was hard saying no to them, and you could hire more staff you know. However, back then there was not so much focus on project in relation to funding for staff.  

The situation was different at the time, there were more financing, and applications and EU projects were not seen as crucial for staff positions.  

However, the main learning is the research opportunities that the projects gave, the empirical material, which unfortunately were never really pursued:  

The main learning – there could have been made some research on it (the project outcomes), there was actually some worthy empirical material, some interesting. The problem was to take the time for doing in afterwards.    

Lastly, the conference in the project gave some input for though that SSC still remembers clearly now 15 years later, and thinks about from time to time:  

I always remember a comment by a British professor. What was the clients request that never came to the science shop, were there some groups to weak that they could not make a request?

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