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Glasgow: A European City of Scientific Culture

Bailie Liz Cameron signs the PLACES declaration on Cities of Scientific Culture on behalf of the City of Glasgow. Left to right: Bailie Liz Cameron, Ken Calman, Derek Shirlaw, and Susie Mitchell. Image: Glasgow City of Science

Since 2011, cities across the continent of Europe have been working at a local level, forming alliances of science communication institutions and local policymakers.

These City Partnerships (some 60 of them across 30 countries) have had their sights set on defining what it means to be a European City of Scientific Culture as part of a project called, PLACES (Platform of Local Authorities and Communities Engaged in Science)

Tasked - first and foremost – in engaging local stakeholders in developing a Local Action Plan that informs science communication policy at the local level for many years to come, City Partnerships were asked to address science and technology-related issues relevant to their respective city or region. Pilot activities tested innovative approaches to communicate science-based solutions to address controversial or problematic local issues in a way that actively involves citizens.

A novel, e-health pilot activity called ‘Joint Exchange’ took place in Glasgow through 2013 exploring the potential for using digital platforms to bring scientists (including healthcare professionals, exercise instructors), people with musculoskeletal conditions, and users of leisure facilities together in providing support and knowledge for musculoskeletal conditions. Findings from this pilot are shaping development and widening access to this activity through 2014 and beyond - watch this space!

In March 2014, representatives from each of these PLACES city partnerships - and others who’ve had their interest piqued from the side – met in Bremen, Germany for a final conference to share findings, ambitions and to declare each city’s recognition that science should be a part of its culture.

European Cities of Scientific Culture will:

• Work in partnership to address societal challenges: energy, climate, sustainable transport (e.g. through Horizon2020)
• Develop & disseminate synthesis documents on the best available evidence
• Promote evidence-based policy-making
• Create both smart citizens + smart technologies
• Raise the profile of science in media, tourism & wider cultural activities
• Promote equality in science
• Engage and inspire children at an early age
• Attract and promoting training to foster the best talent & remain globally competitive
• Forge collaborations across Europe
• Transform the City’s cultural identity

Glasgow European City of Scientific Culture

Representatives from each of the European cities having signed the PLACES declaration for the Final Conference in Bremen, Germany. Image: openplaces.eu

Glasgow’s partnership is recognised and widely praised for having grown beyond Glasgow Science Centre and the City to involve non-governmental organizations, the universities, research institutions, companies, and other interested parties throughout the West of Scotland. Indeed, the partnership has been formalised with the emergence of the Glasgow City of Science initiative through which we deliver the Local Action Plan.

With the PLACES project now drawing to a close, Glasgow and the West of Scotland is well positioned to continue to nurture the partnerships that have been formed to the benefit of all and pursue a global recognition for the central role science has within our culture here alongside the humanities.

Derek Shirlaw coordinated Glasgow’s representation in the PLACES project for Glasgow Science Centre. As Digital Communications Executive for Glasgow City of Science, he’s most often found online @cityofscience.


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