In mid-September, the PhD fellows of COUPLED convened in Vienna, Austria. At Institute of Social Ecology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), located in the heart of the city, we spent five days immersed in an intense learning environment. We met to complete two courses: one on “Assessing Flows of Land-based Products” and one on “Communicating Science”. This is a report on on tips and techniques for scientists (in-spe) communicating with media, policy makers and other audiences outside academia. For the report on “Flows”, please go here.

Over two days of intensive interactive exercises, PhD fellows focused on how to effectively communicate scientific messages to a non-academic audience. We were exposed to the tips and tricks of the media and communication world during a varied, two-day workshop with Robert Kötter from Zweirat Beratung & Training in Cologne, Germany. Learning to develop mental scripts and memorization techniques, and understanding how to deal with stressful situations, were all on the agenda.

The new skills were put into action in mock interviews (with thorough feedback from the instructor and much laughter upon seeing the results). Trying to master the art of communication marked the completion of the first so-called ‘transferable skills’ course. Thanks a lot to Robert for helping to prepare us for a future as (more) communicative scientists, and to Kaitlin Mara from The Forest Trust in Switzerland for facilitating the closing discussions.

Gratitude goes to Helmut Haberl at the  Institute of Social Ecology for hosting the course.

COUPLED team at Training Courses in Vienna

Beyond completing courses, Vienna provided a space for ESRs to engage with each other. By now, we are all at different stages within six months of starting our three year journey – meaning ideas galore. Spurious, off-hand discussions led to opportunities to identify synergies and potentials for collaborations, but perhaps also some points of contestation, across projects, to be built on in the future. With the first ATC session finished, we look forward to the next time we meet in November, this time in Amsterdam and Louvain-la-Neuve.

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