Dialogue between science and the working world on Covid-19
Pandemic management in Switzerland: what went well, where is there room for improvement? An exchange of views between scientists and businesses.
On 25 September, NRP 78 and the Swiss Union of Crafts and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises held a dialogue event at Welle7 in Bern. The aim was to discuss topics related to coronavirus research and pandemic management in Switzerland. In this way, the two parties hoped to identify common interests and promote the exchange of ideas. The science side was presented by Annelies Wilder-Smith, while Hans-Ulrich Bigler provided insights into the business perspective. In the following World Café, everyone was encouraged to make their opinion known. The highlight of the event was the debate between Marcel Salathé and Casimir Platzer on the question: "What good is basic science if no one goes to the pub anymore?"
It was clear from the World Cafés that there is a need for transparency on all sides. This concerns on the one hand politics, which ought to disclose the reasons and decision-making basis behind announced measures; and on the other hand science, whose role in a pandemic is to provide the facts. For these facts to be interpreted correctly, the starting point and context of the research need to be made clear. This is the only way to ensure the neutrality of the decided measures. In addition, the public at large need to be made familiar with the scientific findings. This requires greater promotion of science journalism that can reach different target groups. It should be able to adapt its content to different sectors and levels of education. The perceived volatility of politics was criticised more than once. Particularly the strongly represented hospitality sector considered consistent measures to be vital for businesses to adapt to new circumstances.
One light-bulb moment during the event was the recognition that science and the world of work agree on many things. This underscores the fact that communication between the two groups has fallen short in recent years – another reason why events of this kind are so important. This dialogue event gave participants the opportunity to probe where the other side is coming from and to explain their own situation and needs. This can lead to greater acceptance of people with different views, a key prerequisite for efficient communication and discussion on an equal footing. Ultimately, it improves our preparedness for future crises.
The debate as well as the two presentations can be viewed on the NRP 78 YouTube channel.