Engagement with the academic community is a fundamental part of engaging children in the processes of change. While there may be some dispute regarding the extent to which academics, particularly in the field of science, are themselves marginalised from the policy process, they remain the architects of the evidence base and the shapers of knowledge. While it differs much across countries (and within them) they also retain significant autonomy within higher education enabling them to structure how HE engages with all young people, and particularly those from underrepresented groups.

The SiS Catalyst project from the outset ensured that the academic community were part of the change ecosystem. The project produced a series of academic papers and a collection of these will be published in 2015. ‘Listening and Empowering: Crossing the social inclusion and the science in society agenda in science communication activities involving children and young people’, confronts some of the assumptions embedded in the relationship that children have with science and those who communicate it. It argues that while children are one of the main target groups for the communication of science, they are positioned as recipients of knowledge excluded from the dialogic approach that aims to ensure that scientists listen and have a dialogue with the public, or excluded altogether from science by their economic or social backgrounds.

It brings together examples of how confront this exclusion by providing spaces where dialogue with children can be developed, and how these spaces can be used to open up the potential for institutional changes.