Enhancing the Responsible and Sustainable Expansion of the Science Shop Ecosystem in Europe

SciShops sets up shop at Almedalen week in Sweden

The pop-up Science Shop from the outside. Photo: Hanna Mellin, VA

SciShops ran its first pop-up Science Shop on 1 July during Almedalen Week in Visby, Sweden. Throughout the day, researchers from Swedish research organisations encouraged visitors to stop by the pop-up Science Shop to discover how research can be used to inform solutions to societal issues and to identify questions that they’d like to be answered by research.

The pop-up Science Shop from the outside. Photo: Hanna Mellin, VA
The pop-up Science Shop from the outside. Photo: Hanna Mellin, VA

The event was run by SciShops partner VA (Public & Science) as part of the Horizon 2020 SciShops project, which is supporting the development of new Science Shops across Europe, through which researchers and civil society work collaboratively to create new knowledge.

Each year around 40,000 people from politics, civil society and academia descend on the island of Gotland in Sweden for Almedalen to discuss a wide range of current societal issues in a week-long programme of seminars, debates and events. The Science Shop, called a “kunskapskiosk” (knowledge shop) in Swedish, was located in a busy thoroughfare in Visby harbour.

Passers-by were invited in to discuss their questions with the participating researchers over a cup of coffee or bag of popcorn. There was a steady flow of visitors throughout the day from when the Science Shop opened at 10am until it closed at 5pm. The Science Shop was manned by researchers representing a broad range of Swedish universities and organisations: University of Gothenburg, University West, Karlstad University, Karolinska Institute, KTH, Linköping University, Lund University, The Swedish National Heritage Board, Uppsala University and Örebro University.

Over 200 questions were collected on cards during the day and embraced a diverse range of topics and issues ranging from those faced by visitors at a personal or work-related level to broader societal challenges. It also offered an opportunity to visitors to find out more about how research is conducted and what a researcher’s job involves. Visitors included many representatives of different parts of civil society and the business community interested in learning how scientific methods could be used to support their own activities.

All the questions asked at Almedalen will be shared with the participating researchers as well as within the SciShops project.

Visitors talking to researchers in the SciShops pop-up Science Shop. Photo: Hanna Mellin, VA
Visitors talking to researchers in the SciShops pop-up Science Shop. Photo: Hanna Mellin, VA

A selection of questions asked by visitors at Almedalen:

“How does growing up in a family with lots of siblings affect an individual’s health?”

“What is the optimal hygiene routine in hospitals prior to surgery, to reduce the risk of infection ?”

“What kind of technological innovations could reduce starvation and hunger in the world e.g. agricultural developments to better utilise the Earth’s resources?”

“What is the benefit of cultural experiences to society and individuals?”

“What is the environmental impact of meat production?”

“How do you measure self-confidence in schools?”

“How does the right to freely choose which school your child attends (in Sweden) affect results in schools, and what are the other possible socio-economic consequences?”

“How do research findings impact politics?

“How will automation and AI affect the workforce of the future?”

“Can secular psychology take inspiration and learning from religious psychology where the soul is included in the equation?”

“Why is there such great opposition to esports being considered a sport in Europe, but not in the East?”

“How is the loss of someone’s own minority language linked to that individual’s health?”

“Are solar cells good for the environment?”

Visitors wrote their questions down on cards which were displayed in the pop-up Science Shop. Photo: Hanna Mellin, VA
Visitors wrote their questions down on cards which were displayed in the pop-up Science Shop. Photo: Hanna Mellin, VA

A big thanks to all the researchers that participated:


Swedish SciShops partner VA (Public & Science) is keen to promote the Science Shop concept within Sweden to encourage more research organisations to set them up and will be running a number of workshops on Science Shops throughout 2019. The first will be held at the International Transdisciplinarity Conference in Gothenburg on 10 September.