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Young Academy Leiden Outreach Grant

Please note: we have suspended this call because the budget limit for the grants has been reached. 

Although an old problem, the rapid speed of modern communications and the broad reach of social media makes it easier for misinformation and disinformation to be spread by unwitting or malicious actors. This has a number of negative consequences, including but not limited to: the difficulty in distinguishing between genuine and false information; the undermining of trust in social institutions; the creation of separate informational realities which make an effective and shared public square impossible; and an increase in marginalization and discrimination.

Awarded Outreach Grants

In 2022, the Young Academy Leiden launched a call for outreach grant proposals. The grant committee was delighted by the interesting proposals they received, and is happy to announce that five proposals will receive the requested funding. You can find out more about the successful proposals below.

The podcast series Rethinking sex in neuroscience of mental health aims to broadcast scientific knowledge about sex differences in the brain and its relation to mental health to a broad public. Sex effects in the brain are often overly simplified presented which lead to inflated claims that make it to the headlines of the news. This has harmful consequences particularly in mental health leading to misdiagnoses and mistreatment. In this podcast series several experts in the field of neuroscience, developmental psychology, and medicine will shed their light on this topic and will discuss how we can rethink how to investigate sex in neuroscience of mental health.

‘Misinformation’ about the Middle Ages is widespread and increasingly problematic. On the one hand, there are those who characterize the medieval period as a violent, backward time, characterized by ill health, low life expectancy and a dominant Catholic church; anything that is not deemed ‘according to modern standards’ is branded ‘medieval’ in news outlets and political speeches. On the other hand, there are those who idealize the Middle Ages as a romantic period, untouched by modernity; in this guise, the Middle Ages inspire nationalist movements and right-wing extremists who draw inspiration from, e.g., Vikings and the medieval Crusades. Academics in the field of medieval studies are often confronted with these preconceptions about the Middle Ages, but they rarely face these misinformed ideas head-on. With the YAL Outreach grant, Jip Barreveld, Mette Langbroek and Thijs Porck will make a second season of the podcast ‘Middeleeuwse Toestanden’ in which a number of myths about the Middle Ages will be unraveled and contradicted through interviews with experts from Leiden University in the field of medieval studies. The podcast will be publicized via the Leiden Medievalists Blog, where 50+ medievalists from different disciplines share their work with a wider audience. The podcast is directed at a broad audience of academics and non-academics.

It is estimated that 97% of Dutch adolescents (aged between 12-24 years) frequently use at least one social media platform (e.g., Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook). While social media allows adolescents to connect with their peers it also exposes them to misinformation, which can have harmful consequences to their health and well-being. The goal of the BrainTrain workshops is to educate Dutch high-school students about how the brain processes information as well as to train their media literacy skills so they can confidently fact-check information on their own.

You can also follow them on Instagram: braintrainnl.

Is it true that we only use 10% of our brain? And will listening to Mozart really make your child smarter? With the YAL Outreach Grant, Marit Ruitenberg will create an episode for the television program Nieuw Licht aimed at debunking common misconceptions about the brain. The program was initiated as part of the Leiden 2022 European City of Science program, in involves a collaboration with producers Roggeveen|Olijerhoek, graphic designer Roos-Marijn Kinkel, and theater group Domino (a collective of individuals with a mental disability). We will address facts and fictions about the brain from different academic perspectives including neuroscience, psychology, and pedagogy.

(Social) media are overloaded with statistics, including a lot of misleading statistics. Loads of false claims are supported by statistics that are often true but are represented in a misleading way. Therefore, is important that everyone learns the skill of critical thinking that is required in this modern world that revolves around data.

With help from dr. Sanne Willems, five students of the Science Communication & Society master programme have developed a teaching package on Misleading Statistics that is freely available for high schools teacher to use in class. Willems will use the YAL Outreach Grant to promote this package among teachers, so that it will reach many teenagers and protects them from being fooled by misleading statistics.

Recap Outreach Grant Symposium 2022

On Friday November 25th the YAL Outreach workgroup presented the Outreach Grant Symposium 2022. The symposium that discussed barriers and opportunities for early career scholars to do outreach, was held at the Faculty club at the Academiegebouw. In spring of 2022 the YAL launched a call for outreach grant proposals on misinformation from which five proposals were granted. The grantees were invited to the symposium to share their outreach activities funded by their YAL outreach grant.

After the welcome speech by dr. Rachel Plak coordinator of the YAL Outreach workgroup, the symposium was kicked off by science communication researcher and keynote speaker dr. Julia Cramer (Science Communication and Society). She shared how she was introduced to outreach and discussed best practices for doing outreach. Julia was followed by Outreach Grantee Sterre van Riel MSc, who introduced the audience to a workshop for high school students on how the brain can trick us into believing false information. Grantee dr. Marit Ruitenberg shared her experiences of creating a new episode for a tv show Nieuw Licht about debunking misconceptions about the brain. Dr. Sanne Willems explained that with her outreach grant she was able to promote a teaching package for high school students on misleading statistics. After a short break, keynote speaker dr. Maikel Kuijpers (Archaeology) discussed his experiences with a selection of his numerous outreach activities, from the boardgame Epoch to the illustrated video History of the Faculty of Archaeology Leiden University. Maikel was followed by grantee Jip Barreveld MA who discussed the second season of the podcast series ‘Middeleeuwse Toestanden’ in which myths about the Middle Ages are debunked. Finally, grantee Marieke Bos presented the podcast series “Rethinking sex in neuroscience of mental health” on sex differences in the brain and its relation to mental health. After the presentations, all speakers took part in roundtable discussions with the attendees. Several outreach related topics were discussed, such as differences between disciplines when doing outreach, were to find outreach support within the university, and rewards and recognition of outreach in and outside academia.

The symposium ended with drinks; attendees -all from different disciplines- had the chance to meet, chat and further discuss outreach.

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