On academic accessibility and the Eutopia experience by Hanneloes Grezel

The EURSS has given me and my research partner the opportunity to let our own ideas rule how we want to conduct our research. When it comes to this process, we have divided the work between us very equally, where my research partner has had more responsibility on the design part and I have had more responsibility for the language. I would say for the scope of this project, having each other has been a huge asset and I could not have done this alone. Finding youth to interview was really really hard! Having the project relayed over the summer probably made it harder, and not mapping out enough time for the project initially too. It was also hard to gage what was expected of us for the project, since we didn’t have a frame of reference and it would be nice to have clearer guidelines on certain aspects, also to communicate to the supervisors what would be expected of us for this project. 

The absolute best part of the project was getting to meet our host supervisors and experiencing university abroad, something we haven’t had the opportunity to do before this. The funding helped us stay in Brussels for a week, two days of which we sat at the VUB to work, which made everything 100% worth it. All in all, this is definitely an experience I would recommend, if you’re someone that is willing to put the work in. 

For me, I got to combine an academic research process with a journalistic presentation through the website we built as our method of presenting. The first question you would ask yourself when working on any article is who you are writing for. It was clear for us from the start that our audience was the same young people that we chose to interview for the piece. This meant we wanted to create a product that would be accessible to a general audience, with as few aesthetic and linguistic barriers of entry as possible. We wanted the piece to be understood on its own, regardless of experience with the essay form. Aligning our idea with the goals of EUTOPIA, this speaks to the upholding and creating of an open exchange of knowledge within Europe. For us this means looking at research culture not only within universities, also remembering that scientific concepts created do influence public discourse outside of these institutions. We want to present the research in a way that is therefore formatted to be able to directly communicate with both of these camps, both the academic and the public, without needing to be filtered by, for example, journalists. By presenting it in this way, we want to question ourselves when it comes to typical ways to present academic research. We don’t, however, see our method of presenting specifically as an example of how to go about presenting this research. It is just a method we have chosen because we thought that it fit our project on a more conceptual level, the interactivity and design mimicking the ways in which youth consume news. The project doesn’t take credit for being ambitious enough to directly question academic inaccessibility, but we do hope that these questions are something that will be on the reader’s mind.