The BCDC Energy community consists of five research teams, two strategic partners, namely the Carbon Neutral Municipality Forum and Finnish Local Renewable Energy Association, and an Advisory Board involving private companies. The BCDC Interaction team’s research focuses on interaction and communication between these key actors. By using multiple means of interaction and communication actions, such as workshops and meetings face-to-face and virtually, and by using ICT and social media applications, the team aims at enhancing the creation of new interdisciplinary knowledge. For theoretically examining this phenomenon the team applies a multiple case study approach. Research is conducted in the Department of Information and Communication Studies at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Oulu. BCDC Vice Manager and the Director of Communication, Professor Maija-Leena Huotari leads the team consisting of Postdoctoral Researcher Anna Suorsa, Doctoral students Kaisu Koivumäki and Teija Keränen, Project researcher Sanna Tuomela and Planner, project communicator Kaisa Ikonen.
Knowledge and expertise of the BCDC Energy Community
A joint knowledge-base forms the basis for creating new interdisciplinary knowledge within the community. Therefore, in the first case study the research teams’ expertise is identified, and their and the Advisory Board members’ social contacts within the community are analysed. We are applying participatory methods to set up this knowledge-base consisting of the core, interdisciplinary terminology which we use for storing, disseminating and sharing information, experiences, research data and results within the community and even beyond according to the principles of open science.
In the picture: Maija-Leena Huotari. Photo: Jarmo Kontiainen.
Interaction and knowledge creation
Previous studies indicate that new knowledge is best created through interaction, which is open, trusting and reflective. The surrounding circumstances also have to support this kind of interaction. In other words, there needs to be enough time and sufficient opportunities for interaction in the everyday life of a community. In the second case study the focus is placed on this type of interaction between the community members. It is important to examine, how the researchers from different fields and sites of location learn to work together as a community, and how they develop such interactive practices, which support the community as a whole to achieve its goals.
In the picture: Kaisa Ikonen and Anna Suorsa. Photo: Kati Leinonen.
This study is based on a phenomenological approach, where a human being is understood as a conscious subject capable of affecting her own actions and circumstances, simultaneously also affecting the actions and circumstances of the whole community.In this study interaction is examined by applying Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutics, and the idea of play is used for achieving a special type of being together. The empirical study is conducted using ethnographic methods, namely, by observation, interviews and analysis of the nature of interaction between the community members.
This study allows conceptual consistency for our examination of knowledge creation, which is quite a complex phenomenon in this multi-professional and multi-organisational, interdisciplinary research and development project.
Collaborative science communication actions
The BCDC Energy project pursues interaction and engagement also with the wider community including political decision makers and citizens. The Interaction team plans these actions in dialog with the communication units of the organisations involved in the BCDC Energy community. Together with the other researcher teams the Interaction team manages the communications and interaction in practice including the BCDC Energy website and social media applications, such as blogs, news and on Twitter.
Our third case study will focus on communication research from the perspective of science communication. The aim is to find best practises of interaction and engagement for interdisciplinary research and development projects. In this case study we are interested in the researchers’ and the other key actors’ as well as the participating organisations’ communication units experiences.
In the picture: Kaisu Koivumäki. Photo: Kati Leinonen.
On the basis of these case studies we will present a model which integrates their main outcomes. It will be a model of organizational knowledge creation in the context of an interdisciplinary research and development project.
In the picture: Members of the BCDC Energy Community. Photo: Kati Leinonen.