Humboldt Communication Lab

A conversation between science and the media: twice a year, ten Humboldt Fellows and ten early-career journalists get together with the aim of learning from one another.

Logo of Humboldt Communication Lab for Exchange between Research and Media
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Contact

Dr Stephanie Siewert
Programme Director
Communication Lab
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Berlin Office
Markgrafenstr. 37
10117 Berlin
GERMANY

stephanie.siewert[at]avh.de

Communication Lab for Exchange between Research and Media

Twice a year, ten Humboldt Fellows meet up with ten early-career journalists from around the world. The ten journalists are selected by the International Journalists’ Programmes organisation (IJP e.V.) In teams of two they work on a piece of journalism during the course of a three- to four-day workshop. Highly qualified mentors supervise the process. During these workshops, participants discuss what they expect from one another, how close cooperation works, and what constitutes good research communication.

The third ComLab (4–5 June & 11–12 June 2021) addressed the field of tension between sustainability and social justice; the potential of sustainable innovations and the conflicting goals that (can) ensue from the economic and social interests of the Global North and the Global South.

  • Join the ComLab network and be part of a specialist community of science communicators. 
  • Share ideas with fellow scientists and journalists from all over the world. 
  • Discuss current global issues with international experts in politics and civil society. 
  • Learn innovative storytelling techniques from excellent trainers and mentors.
  • Work on a compelling piece of science communication based on your own research.

Events and results

In order to enable as many people as possible to access current research findings and enhance their understanding of the way scientists are working during the Corona crisis, effective, well-researched journalism is essential. The first Communication Lab thus focused on the Corona pandemic. The award-winning articles included a biographical reportage on the occupation of a virologist, a children’s book on the way bacteria work, and a reportage on the dangers of zoonoses.

Climate change is a particular challenge for people all over the world and thus for science communicators, too. The second round of the Communication Lab therefore addressed the European Green Deal and the issues involved in successfully communicating climate change and its impacts. The award-winning projects dealt with the loss of biodiversity, the effects of climate change on indigenous communities and traditional ways of life as well as the role of permafrost in global warming.

Sustainable change also means social change. The third Communication Lab therefore addresses the tension between sustainability and social justice; the potential of sustainable innovations and the conflicting goals that (can) ensue in the Global North and the Global South. Science and journalism can help to highlight the social interactions inherent in sustainable transformation. They are also multipliers for forward-looking ideas and best-practice examples of sustainable development.

Artificial intelligence, robotics and new digital technologies are changing our lives. To which extent, benefit or at which cost is often hard to grasp for regulators, civil society and media. While transformative technologies hold great potential in medicine, industry, logistics or urban planning, there are hardly any other scientific fields that spark so much speculation.  From automated mobility to biorobots and intelligent implants: The relationship between humans and machines is characterised by promise, but also by misunderstanding and ignorance.

Participants about the ComLab:

Dr Natalia Ruiz Morato, legal scholar, Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Colombia)
As a legal scholar working with small farmers and indigenous people, my work needs to have an impact in policymaking. Thanks to Comlab, I learned science is communication as well. You can even rap science! Alexander von Humboldt was a pioneer in science communication, in that spirit, as researchers we must innovate our communication.

Fabio Fornari, tourism researcher, German Chancellor Fellow (Brazil)
ComLab was one of the most exciting and interesting programmes I have ever been part of. The format is truly engaging and gave me the opportunity to learn from experts from all over the world during workshops, as well as working with a great journalist. When I first learned about ComLab I had no idea that just a few months later I would be working alongside an experienced journalist and would see our work together being printed in a real newspaper. As a researcher, this programme has completely changed my perspective and trajectory. It was a deeply impacting experience to be part of ComLab and I definitely recommend it for everyone out there who might be wondering whether they should apply for it. I am very grateful to have been part of this exciting and challenging programme and I hope to see many more ComLabs in the future. Researchers, journalists and the world definitely need more of them!

Dr Khondokar Kabir, agricultural scientist, Climate Protection Fellow (Bangladesh)
ComLab, to me, is a platform for caring and sharing about your society through the interplay of science and journalism. You should aim to get into ComLab since it will mentally prepare you to be more socially responsible.

Eduardo Queiroz Alves, geochemist, Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Brazil)
Being a participant of the last ComLab was a very rewarding experience. It taught me, among other things, how to convey my research to a broad and diverse audience.

The programme is financed by

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