Theo Anagnostopoulos on Curiosity and Community

Theo Anagnostopoulos is a Scientist and social entrepreneur, a science communicator and a public speaker. He runs the Athens Science Festival and is the Founder and General Manager of SciCo, an international social enterprise aiming to make science simple and understandable to the public.

On communities and change

I am interested in how to get communities of people to engage with science. The most important principle is that the citizens need to get an understanding of some basic science and how this connects to their everyday lives. Examples are climate change and its anthropogenic causes, health issues such as vaccination, healthy eating and exercise, the future of technology plus more.

Everybody is born a ‘scientist’ as everybody is born curious. Somehow this is frequently programmed out of us by our environment—our family, our education system and our society in general. A more interactive, empathetic and biomatic way of teaching is needed. 

With regards to communicating science it has frequently been done in a wrong way.  It is not the lack of information or convincing data that people are missing. For example, An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore has been out since 2007, and it was giving all the facts about the destruction of the climate, and eventually the planet, with all this data and facts. This, instead of convincing, it was scaring people off hence they were just rejecting it. So, the mechanism is to create engaging, fun, educational methods that will not necessarily seem as teaching, but it would feel more like an entertainment if possible.

As an example, we created the first science festival here in Greece, back in 2014, and now we’re running about six of them all around the country. We have around 60,000 visitors collectively every year. When people go to that fair, they don’t necessarily go to learn science, but they go to have fun. Now, learning a little bit of science as a positive consequence, it’s something which comes out of this experience. We use gamification, and by not having a lecture type of approach. This is the main answer. What we do, it’s edutainment, education and entertainment.

The best result comes out when an educational program is ‘phy-gital.’ Both physical and digital.

On community intelligence

The collective intelligence of a group increases in very specific ways. One is the way that you allow people to talk and fully express their opinions uninterrupted. Collective intelligence also is meant to increase when there is a higher number of women in the group, because it increases the social perception of the group. In addition, people from different backgrounds increase diversity which is vital for community intelligence.

The Curious Advantage is an exploration of the behaviour of curiosity and its central role in the digital age, taking the widest possible exploration of things curious—historical, contemporary, neuro-scientific, anthropological, behavioural and business.

Curiosity has profound implications for organisations, leaders and individuals inhabiting the digital reality.  The Curious Advantage provides pragmatic tools and case studies and makes the case for how curiosity is the greatest driver of value in the new digital age. Curiosity is at the heart of the skills required to successfully navigate our digital lives when all futures are uncertain.

The Curious Advantage introduces the 7C’s of Curiosity model—a useful tool for anyone wanting to lead a curious organisation or who wants to challenge themselves to be actively curious.

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26th August, 2021 | Theo Anagnostopoulos on Curiosity and Community