People in Greenland are often aware of foreign researchers working in local field stations or as they transit through to more remote field camps. However, there is often little interaction among community members and researchers unless this is part of the funded work. In some instances, community members have expressed frustration at the influx of foreign researchers who have significant impacts on local resources such as housing. Participants recounted interactions with community members who questioned the need for researchers to be in Greenland as the direct benefits are not apparent. All agree that there is room for significant improvement with regards to public outreach. Ideas offered by Greenland participants were particularly valuable and appreciated because of their understanding of the nuances of communication and best practices for outreach in Greenland communities.
- Public outreach should be prioritized as an explicit goal of all projects conducted in Greenland regardless of funding source
- Resources (time and money) should be allocated to outreach
- Researchers should emphasize the benefits of research to Greenland society beyond global impacts (e.g., enhanced education and training opportunities, improved infrastructure, improved natural resource use and management)
- Think of outreach as a conversation with the public rather than a one-sided presentation. Researchers should try to respond to requests from Greenlanders for information or action on questions that the Greenlanders raise
- Use Greenlandic names to refer to major equipment installations
- If possible, partner with a Greenland scientist or translator to overcome language barriers - one participant noted that more Greenland citizens ask questions when presentations are in Greenlandic
- The International Arctic Hub in Nuuk could facilitate outreach in communities, especially if there is a dedicated person to coordinate and facilitate community outreach and assist with translations
Specific recommendations for reaching the Greenland public
- Radio and Local Advertising- Seek interest from Kalaallit Nunaata Radio (KNR) and Sermitsiaq, the print media outlet (sermitsiaq.ag). Both broadcast nationally and are ubiquitous ways for the public to learn about news and events in Greenland. These venues are a significant way to advertise science outreach events, as is using local flyers in bus stops and Nuuk Ugeavis, the free newspaper in Nuuk. One exciting idea from the workshop is to connect researchers with Ilisimatusarfik journalism students, who can collaboratively work to convey information about research and results to the public through radio stories and written articles for the local free newspaper in Nuuk.
- Social Media- Researchers use Twitter for science communication and outreach, however, in Greenland, Facebook (and Instagram, secondarily) is the best way to reach the public. Posting events on Facebook and tagging colleagues or friends in Greenland is a fast way to spread awareness of research projects and outreach events.
Opportunities for Outreach in Greenland
Every town in Greenland has a computer with 4G internet that is available to anyone living in or near that town. A well-known website that is regularly maintained within Greenland, freely available, and that already has a lot of other information on it should have a tab created for “Outreach”. Someone clicking on that tab would be able to see science outreach film clips and science classroom activities that are crafted to be easily understood by a Greenland citizen. Isaaffik (www.Isaaffik.org) is already widely known, recognized, and regularly maintained. Outreach materials could include:
- Science videos and podcasts: 5-7 minute brief, interesting podcasts about science results that are relevant to the citizens of Greenland. If possible, each podcast should be in multiple languages, including English and Greenlandic. The podcast should be posted on YouTube, linked on Isaaffik, and could also be linked to the official YouTube channel of Ilisimatusarfik. When the research is a partnership between scientists from other nations and Greenland community-scientists, both the local and the international scientist should be included within the footage and in the design of the video or podcast
- Science lessons for classrooms in Greenland: The lessons should be pedagogically sound (e.g. follow guidance in the U.S. National Science Standards), easily understood, use materials readily available in remote communities*, and should be accompanied by a teacher’s guide to help the local teacher be prepared to use the material in his/her classroom. *Some materials, including paper-handouts and posters, may need to be sent to communities because access to printing is very limited in the smallest communities. Also, there needs to be an avenue to connect local teachers to these materials (perhaps through the Ministry of Education in Greenland and the Institute of Learning at Ilisimatusarfik).
- Visualizations of projects and their data: NASA has amazing visualizations, freely available at the NASA Science Visualization Studio (SVS): svs.gsfc.nasa.gov
Greenland Science Week in Nuuk
There has been a polar research day every year in Denmark that Greenland researchers attend, and, excitingly, this event is moving to Nuuk and is scheduled for 2-5 December 2019 as “Greenland Science Week”. This and future events will be a significant venue to showcase research by Greenland and international scientists. It may also be worth exploring satellite versions in smaller towns with at least one researcher from each the U.S. and Greenland in attendance. Participants suggested a good model for this event is the annual Culture Night in Nuuk, when most businesses and institutions are open to the public and host various displays, exhibitions, and activities. This has included the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources hands-on display and the Greenland National Museum and Archive exhibit and history quiz game, which are well attended in part because bus services are free during this period to encourage residents to attend. If U.S. researchers are unable to travel to partake in this important event, they could design and provide the materials for hands-on activities to partners at research institutions in Greenland. For part of the Nuuk workshop, we hosted such an event at Katuaq (see Insert below).
Outreach in towns where field work is conducted
Scientists coming to Greenland should work with local scientists well before their arrival to organize an event at a local venue (e.g., airport, community center in Pituffik/Qaanaaq), which would then occur while the visiting scientist is in town. One possible format is having the scientist briefly talk about a research topic, allowing a lot of time to answer questions from the audience about their talk or on a range of scientific topics suggested by attendees. One currently implemented outreach event occurs at the Kangerlussuaq airport each summer during the Joint Science Education Project. Students put together displays and hands-on activities and because the teams include students from the U.S., Denmark, and Greenland, they can share their science projects and answer questions in Greenlandic, Danish, and English.
Greenland National Museum and Archives
The Greenland National Museum and Archives is tasked with protecting, preserving and disseminating information on the entirety of Greenland’s cultural history and intangible heritage. From a management standpoint, this is a daunting task as the sheer size of Greenland presents incredible logistical challenges to accessing remote parts of the country. The National Museum also holds an obligation to perform research and disseminate information on new discoveries related to Greenland’s natural history. Therefore, the National Museum has a standing interest in promoting and participating in collaborative projects that bridge the natural and social sciences and can combine cultural resource management (i.e. heritage & archaeology) with environmental/climate science. The National museum lacks funds, exhibition space and expertise in the natural history of Greenland and would like to incorporate more natural history and science into their larger public outreach efforts and in the process help scientists make their discoveries more accessible. As there is not a lot of space in the museum for full exhibitions, the Museum has offered to post videos and develop new virtual platforms on the museum’s website and Facebook page and possibly KNR that help promote scientific literacy and general interest in local scientific research. Again, the target audience would be both local and international, with translations provided in Greenlandic, Danish and English.
Public outreach event at Katuaq
As part of the workshop, researchers from the U.S. and Greenland set up hands-on exhibits and shared science with the community at a two-hour event at Katuaq, Nuuk’s Cultural Center. This feature event was opened with remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands. Following her remarks, researchers from the U.S. and Greenland used various formats for communication. Some participants elected to prepare a five-minute presentation describing their project and research for the general public. The talks included a personal dimension, i.e., ensuring to introduce yourself, your background, and tell a little bit about your story of being a researcher in Greenland. We displayed over ten posters that described various projects in Greenland led by U.S. and/or Greenland researchers and we had a collection of hands-on exhibits featuring photographs, videos, scientific equipment, and field samples.