Careers beyond the lab: discussions at the European Science Open Forum

The bi-annual European Science Open Forum had been postponed from July to September and was carried out as one of the largest “hybrid” science events from 2 to 6 September 2020. More than 1000 people participated in person in the innovative format which combined on-site and online discussions. 1400 participants connected remotely every day from 52 countries across 5 continents.

Live vs virtual:

As ESOF highlights in its reflecting newsletter, the event saw “a particular focus on Science Diplomacy, with about 10 sessions dedicated to the topic“.

Explicit references were seen in relation to big research infrastructures which are “Building Bridges” (with our associated partner IIASA), “Scientific Diplomacy for Freedom” (including TWAS), or specifically for Oceans Management or Disaster Diplomacy (with the member of our advisory board, Paul Berkman). Others focused on refugee scientists (in which our TWAS colleagues also spoke) or cooperation with the Western Balkans (with the participation of ZSI colleagues) or China. Our colleague Marga Gual spoke in the session on “How to govern an effective science-policy interface? Lessons from the existing initiatives in addressing the Euro-Mediterranean challenges“.

S4D4C was among the selected participants to the ESOF Conference, partnering up with EFSA (European Food and Safety Authority) in a session entitled “Beyond the Lab: Career paths between science & policy”. The discussion was put in the frame of the “careers track” of the conference and aimed at raising awareness for interesting career paths on the interfaces between the areas of science and policy – and among the policy realm, in particular, we highlighted diplomacy as well as regulatory science.


The purpose of the session is to trigger a discussion on alternative career opportunities for professionals with a scientific academic background. The aim is to raise awareness for interesting career paths on the interfaces between the areas of Science and Policy. How diverse can be the job portfolio for the scientists? What are the challenges for each career path? Are there intersections in these paths? Which is the social and scientific impact of each career opportunity? Addressing global challenges needs creative professionals with scientific background and complementary skills to bridge towards the social spheres of policy making and delivery. Professionals need to make sure that the scientific evidence reaches the right stakeholders in the right format. The partners of the S4D4C Horizon 2020 project analysed several cases where science diplomacy was crucial. Together with EFSA, the EU Regulatory Authority for Food Safety, the session will present interesting cases of scientific career paths which bring together Diplomacy, Policy and Academia. How each of them and all of them together can promote Science? Which is the impact to the Society? The working environment is changing fast and everybody in the job market has to adapt to acknowledging that; • The expectations of the employees have changed. People want to have a portfolio of experiences and to satisfy their inner need for creativity. • The salary is not per se the highest motive when selecting an employer. On the contrary, the attractiveness of the company, its brand, its social impact can influence more the final choice. • Organisations cannot be the unique owner of the knowledge so they need to look for partners and to better use their network. • Keeping employees satisfied and offering them an opportunity to contribute to their science and to the society is a key element for keeping also productivity high. • Career paths inside as well as outside academia are insecure and changing, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity are needed and on the interfaces to other areas new job profiles that have not existed a few years ago open up. Join the session and learn more for interesting career paths!


Link on the ESOF website:

Organisers are: Elke Dall (S4D4C coordinator, Centre for Social Innovation) and Panagiotis Kalavros (EFSA) supported by Sheila Perosa (TWAS)

Speakers: Cristina Alonso Andicoberry (EFSA), Andrea Terron / George Krass (EFSA), Lorenzo Melchor (FECYT), Peter McGrath (TWAS)

The recording of the session is available for participants who registered for ESOF. We share here our slides and there are a few nice tweets from the audience (e.g. here by Yildiz Kelahmetoglu and here – by the InterAcademy Partnership) and by the hashtag we used #careersbeyondthelab.

In the closing words, also Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte highlighted that “Trieste is a unique model of international cooperation and science diplomacy” – indeed, even in the hybrid concept, there was a vibrant community in Trieste engaging in practical science diplomacy.

S4D4C Team

Posted by S4D4C Team