In practice: Collaborating for a more inclusive audience

The Centre for Science and Culture works to make programmes appealing to a more inclusive audience. We teamed up with societal partners as part of the Betweter Festival and Science Weekend. We wanted to attract Utrecht residents that would not normally take part in scientific activities. 

Buddy to Buddy

Buddy to Buddy Utrecht connects current and former refugees to other residents of Utrecht in an effort to help newcomers out of their social isolation and involve Dutch nationals in their integration process. 

Betweter Festival 

Tessa and Natnael are buddies at Buddy to Buddy Utrecht. Tessa lives in Utrecht and Natnael arrived in Utrecht from Eritrea several years ago. They do all sorts of activities together. This time, they were invited to attend the Betweter Festival. How was their experience?

Tessa: "There were so many activities! You could wander around the festival all evening without getting bored. They had experiments set up in the corridor, so you could not only walk from room to room, but there were also lots of other activities in between. Natnael also really enjoyed that. We also attended a lecture, but his Dutch isn't that good yet, so he couldn't really follow what was being said."

Natnael: "I didn't really know what to expect, because I'd never heard of the festival. I couldn't understand everything, but you could also just listen to what they were saying. That was fine too, even though they were talking about complicated things." 

Tessa Laan is project coordinator at Buddy to Buddy Utrecht and Utrechtse Heuvelrug. Among other responsibilities, she serves as a liaison for the buddies and organises the overall project. What are her views on the Betweter Festival's contribution to their programme? 

"Language doesn't have to be an issue as long as you're aware it requires attention. It also depends on the topic. We attended the lecture on the migration crisis, which was easier to follow because the terms and issues are more familiar. I think the festival could also be made more accessible by choosing specific topics, such as cultural differences, migration, language and identity, for example. I think those subjects would really connect. People might be struggling with the language, but they'll be familiar with the words and concepts. I also think a diverse audience can be really valuable when you're dealing with those kinds of issues. You get an interesting exchange of perspectives." 

Buddy to buddy bij Betweter Festival
Photo: Anna van Kooij

Petje af

Local kids from Utrecht were invited to participate in the Science Weekend through Petje Af Amersfoort. At Petje af (Hats off), inquisitive kids aged 10 to 14 get to explore the world through a hands-on programme for children in need of extra support. 

Science Weekend 

Sara Brouwer and Maartje Bake – lecturers at the Department of Human Geography and Planning – organised an activity on inclusive cities and diverse food landscapes during the Science Weekend, attracting lots of visitors. 

Sara Brouwer: "I noticed the audience was really diverse. I spoke with visitors from all kinds of cultural backgrounds, visitors from different generations and visitors from lots of different cities and towns. It was nice to hear children and parents from migrant backgrounds mention that they enjoyed seeing themselves or their own culture reflected in an activity. There was a real sense of recognition and enthusiasm. I also hope they got the sense they could study at a university themselves one day."

"The Science Weekend programme ties in perfectly with what we want to offer kids through Petje af. It's a really accessible way to gain insight into the world of science and technology. The programme covered a wide range of topics – an interactive day during which the kids could immediately get to grips with various assignments. It's all about learning, seeing and doing! The interactive programme was designed to help children discover their interests. It was great to see them become really innovative and solution-oriented. The event was a real success." 

Gwen Kistler is programme coordinator at Petje Af Amersfoort.

Text: Stephanie Helfferich

Photo: Lize Kraan


This article also appears in the third edition of the magazine Close-Up, full of inspiring columns, background stories and experiences of researchers and support staff.

Go to Close-up #3