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Simon Oja

Deputy Director at the Arctic Centre and research communications officer at the department of geography.


Works at

Communications officer at Department of Geography Section: Geography
Affiliated as public relations officer at Arctic Centre at Umeå University (Arcum)

I am a Ph.D. rhetorician who has transitioned from researching communication to actively communicating research. Successful communication is built on curiosity, dialogue, and understanding.

Experience and Expertise
I have a background as a rhetoric researcher, primarily focusing on visual communication and the democratic aspects of communication, as well as educating others in communication from a rhetorical perspective. As a communicator, I have applied these skills to highlight the knowledge of other researchers and worked on disseminating results from EU projects, including both smaller regional projects and international Horizon Europe projects. I also have extensive experience in science communication in various forms, such as popular science texts, infographics, and films.
My mission is to communicate the knowledge that exists and is created at Umeå University by making it visible and spreading it. To succeed in this, I work strategically to support researchers in how to communicate their research and to promote collaboration both within the university and with external stakeholders. My work aims to create the best possible communication conditions, identify meeting points, and encourage cooperation, thereby enabling science to reach beyond academic circles.
Communication with purpose
The term 'communicate' derives from the Latin word 'communicare,' meaning 'to make common.' 'Dialogue' comes from the Greek word 'dialogos,' signifying 'through the word.' Communicating through dialogue, therefore, does not involve conveying facts; it means creating a common understanding through language. When combined with curiosity, this makes it possible to make knowledge and research relevant and constructive for societal development.
Research and knowledge can be relevant in themselves, but they take on a different dimension when placed in a larger context, such as connecting them to a societal challenge like climate change or as a potential piece of the puzzle that could contribute to solutions when society needs to adapt. Curiosity, where knowledge is significant, is the key to finding these connections and thereby broadening the relevance and potentially increasing the utility of knowledge.
Dialogue as a method to disseminate the knowledge that exists and is created at the university is one of the best tools we have to make a difference. It is through dialogues that we can better understand today's and tomorrow's societal challenges. Therefore, it is in these dialogues that the knowledge needed today can be conveyed, and questions for future needs can be formulated. For example, by organizing cross-faculty presentations for researchers, conferences and seminars with participants from both academia, the public sector, and the business world, or other types of events like exhibitions and panel discussions for interactions between researchers and citizens. In various ways, I hope all of this contributes to a more democratic societal process.
Communication is not an individual action; it is something done together. Therefore, the recipient is an equal participant in all communication. Without a recipient willing to participate and co-create, we gain no understanding of what we are communicating.
By giving researchers the opportunity to participate in various dialogues, share their knowledge, and ask questions, I aim to make these dialogues more firmly anchored in knowledge, more nuanced, and more legitimate. Through this, science is integrated naturally into society, which, hopefully, leads to a broader recognition of scientific expertise in decision-making, something that ultimately promotes evidence-based decision-making. For example, climate research could have an impact on policies, which in turn affects societal behaviors and practices. However, this is just one aspect. Another equally important aspect is that making scientific knowledge accessible, relevant, and relatable provides the public with better opportunities to make informed choices. This means individuals gain more agency while society becomes more knowledge-based and resilient."