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Rethink Impact

For the ECREA 2022 conference in Aarhus, the theme “Rethink Impact” is suggested as a frame for discussing how research, academic education, and training interact with, impact on and reflect society.

This theme resonates with preceding initiatives in Aarhus and the vision of Aarhus University for 2020-2025. It builds upon the university’s long-term strategies and fruitful collaborative partnerships with the business community, the city administration, the region and civil society.

The theme of the conference also resonates with the experiences from Aarhus as a European Capital of Culture in 2017 with the motto “Let’s Rethink” and the related rethinkIMPACTS 2017 project between Aarhus University, The City of Aarhus and the Central Denmark Region.

Impact concerns the conditions of translating research insight into tangible outcomes for society, policy and business. Impact also suggests that such outcomes can be quantified and validated whereas activities such as education and teaching, community building and outreach typically evade the short-term measurements of departments and universities.

We suggest that impact is increasingly important to justify the public funding of research on the national and European level but difficult to quantify or assess. Impact concerns the conditions of working in academia, the power imbalances and hierarchies that promote or prevent innovations in research from impacting society.

Overall, we suggest that the European values of inclusiveness, equality, diversity and fairness also require a revised notion of impact that research and education in media and communication studies should be shaping at this crucial time.

The theme of “Rethink Impact” is our invitation to scholars in ECREA and beyond to engage in this debate and have an active say in how their contribution in research and education makes a difference in society.