Opinion: Does the Pandemic Make Education and Science More Inclusive?

The world gathers via digital tools. Credit: NicoElNino/istock

Lindau Alumna Joanna Kacperczyk-Bartnik, who participated in the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, shares with her thoughts about the impact of the pandemic on the inclusiveness of education:

Together with the pandemic restrictions, a large proportion of educational and scientific activities has been adjusted to distant learning experience. Suddenly, it turned out that we can participate in huge congresses from our homes, without the need to rearrange our everyday professional and personal responsibilities, without taking often long and exhausting journeys, and without missing our children. Staying up-to-date with the recent knowledge and sharing our own research results has been facilitated by digital programmes, webinars, teleconferences, social media activity – and more e-mails.

Easier Participation in Scientific Events

Easier participation at lower costs increased the personal capacity of attended scientific events. Being distracted at first by a number of cancelled gatherings, we have rapidly changed our perception of the scientific meetings and brought networking to the next level, with people joining from different locations and time zones.

It does not mean that physical, real-life meetings do not have any advantages. With the possibility of more personal interactions and social programme accompanying the scientific as well as face-to-face discussions, better perception of body language and addressing the audience in front of us rather than the camera – this type of conferences is likely to successfully come back to the scientific routine.

The Sciathon and the Online Science Days 2020 offer many opportunities for scientific exchange. Credit: Group Fatieiev, Group Zurek, Group Petrov

LINO Experience for the Second Time

At the same time, the higher number of participants during virtual dissertation defences, postgraduate courses, continuing professional education events and congresses shows that the need of overcoming the distance makes the attendance lower. As a result, these events are less inclusive. Also, for the first time in history, the Online Science Days 2020 provide the possibility of participation in Lindau activities for the second time in a lifetime – otherwise impossible due to the limitation introduced in order to support as many young scientists as possible with the opportunity of the LINO experience.

In June 2018 Elizabeth Blackburn initiated the idea of establishing Lindau Guidelines in order to ‘develop and support a new approach for global, sustainable and cooperative open science’. During the Online Sciathon organized by the LINO community, that marked the start of the 2020 Lindau online activities, people from around the world worked on their ideas concerning the development of the Guidelines. Without doubt, the current global situation, the exchange of experience and observations from various perspectives will contribute to better use of digital instruments for securing openness and inclusiveness in science.

With the closing of the Online Science Days 2020 the anticipation of the next Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting here in Lindau will rise. Then the friendships that have been made digitally in 2020 can be continued face-to-face on a new level.

 

Joanna Kacperczyk-Bartnik

About Joanna Kacperczyk-Bartnik

Joanna Kacperczyk-Bartnik is Lindau Alumna 2018, currently completing residency programme and conducting PhD research at the II Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical University of Warsaw. Her interests include science communication, disease prevention, and health-related quality of life.

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