ESSRG takes seriously the social responsibility of the academic sphere and embarks on various community engagement activities by involving diverse actors as co-researchers. It also implies that scientifically trained researchers and local people work together as knowledgeable actors in a self-reflective and creative way with an equal standing throughout the research process. The researchers’ awareness of historical specificities, situatedness and temporalities supports the empowerment of local people, with special attention to giving voice to groups in marginal positions.
In 2004 we had established the Volunteer and Community Outreach Center (VCOC) of St. István University in cooperation with the Gödöllő Regional Civil Network. The aim of the VCOC was to provide students with opportunities to gather on-site and practical experiences at local NGOs that will provide advantages at the labor market. Another important aim of the VCOC was to encourage students to participate in, and actively contribute, to local community initiatives through their engagement activities.
Our long-term aim was to build a complex and established structure of local cooperation among the university, students, the NGO sector, the local authorities, members of the community, so that locally available resources are effectively utilized to improve the well-being and the social capital of the whole community in Gödöllő, Hungary. The VCOC had operated as a science shop and been connected to the international science shop network (Living Knowledge Network).
ESSRG had initiated series of Science Cafes to understand sustainability and diversity in the broadest possible terms (Sustainable Hungary, Diverzitás Science Café) as part of the network of European Science Cafés: SciCafe.eu and SciCafe2.0. As part of the Living Knowledge Network, ESSRG acts as a national contact point to help spreading the idea and development of science shops in Hungary (see e.g. SCIPAS report [.pdf] and PERARES report [.pdf]).
We are a member and supporter of the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA).