Communication competition for PhD students as a TV show in Greenland | Polarjournal
Welcome to Paasisavut, the competition for the next generation of polar researchers in Greenland. The TV show is scheduled to launch on Greenland TV channel KNR on March 1, 2023. Image: Arctic Hub

Polar research actually is an exciting area of science for many people to learn more about. But being able to explain scientific work and results to a broad audience is no easy matter. On the one hand, scientists like to get bogged down in details, but at the same time they do not want to oversimplify the scientific content of their work. Greenland now wants to offer young academics the chance to present their work properly to the public with a special format, namely a competition live on TV.

Explaining one’s scientific work in just five minutes to a jury of experts and an audience on site and in front of the screen is the goal of “Paasisavut” and the challenge that the participants must master. At the end, the jury decides who has solved the task best and the winner receives the prize money of 25,000 Danish kroner (approx. 3,400 euros) and may call themselves Greenland’s best research communicator, at least for one year. Because the show, which will take place next year for the first time on March 1, is to become an annual event, if the initiators have their way.

The idea was started by the International Arctic Hub platform and the University of Greenland. The platform strives to build a bridge between science and society in Greenland, Denmark and also internationally, and to ensure that scientific findings also reach the general public. “There is so much exciting and relevant research going on in Greenland but, unfortunately, a lot of the knowledge never reaches the Greenlandic population,” explains Anna-Sofie Skjerdal, director of Arctic Hub in a press release. Gitte Adler, head of the University of Greenland, agrees. “We hope to change that with Paasisavut.”

The call of the university and the Arctic Hub is addressed to PhD students who are enrolled at a Nordic university and whose work is directly related to Greenland. They must also have done at least part of their fieldwork in Greenland. Graduates who have completed their work in the last two years may also enter the competition.

Nowadays, it is important for young academics to be able to explain their work not only to specialists, but also to the general public. On the one hand, this is the only way to arouse enthusiasm and interest in the public for a wide variety of topics, which in turn has a positive effect on the future of scientific research. Photo: Archive

Each person who wishes to participate in the show must go through a selection process after registering. Only the top five individuals will advance after that and will be prepared for their performances by means of a camp. In the camps, participants learn how to structure their presentation, all about the right choice of words and how to present their own work in the most exciting and appealing way possible. A professional actor will also give important advice about making the most appealing appearance possible. It is important that the participants feel comfortable on stage. The tightrope walk that awaits the participants in the live show on television is difficult. On the one hand, the audience and the jury should be captivated and excited as much as possible, and the value and importance of the work should be presented. On the other hand, the scientific quality and professionalism may convince the expert jury. “We are sure that Paasisavut can help us to refute any preconceptions that research is too dry and inaccessible,” says Anne-Sofie Skjerdal. “We believe Paasisavut can help us prove that Greenlandic research is alive, relevant and very entertaining.”

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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