University of Leicester
2022_Skatun_T_PhD.pdf (10.77 MB)

Science, Identity and Belonging: Engaging through co-design with young people at a science museum: a qualitative study of process

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posted on 2023-02-06, 09:20 authored by Torhild SkatunTorhild Skatun

The Science, identity and belonging (SIB) research project aims at shedding light on codesign processes from several perspectives from within the educational department of a science museum. Over a period of four years, an interdisciplinary museum team has collaborated with a group of young people. With the research and temporary exhibition project FOLK from racial types to DNA sequences (FOLK) as the pivot point, two phases of co-design workshops have been facilitated. First eight sessions resulting in the digital sound installation the Sound of FOLK, followed by a workshop where we collaborated with two partners from phase one arranging a workshop with children in the FOLK exhibition. SIB illuminates how a museum can connect with young people outside of school hours and through it disrupt how museums think about their educational role in society. Moreover, co-design gives opportunities for young people to enter into close conversation on topics that are difficult, complex and sensitive, interchanges that can be used in acting as humans in the society.

This practice-based PhD has resulted in three academic papers: One investigates how co-design has an impact on curatorial reflexivity, a second thematizes how co-design can foster engagement in the interaction between museum professionals and youths.The third looks more closely at how knowledge develops and travels from partaking in collaboration of a digital installation into a post-production phase co-facilitating an activity program. A professional paper elaborates on the usage of Future workshop and a podcast discuss how co-design encourage socially engaged practices. The SIB process has highlighted issues around the sharing of museum authority, multivocality, long-term partnerships, mutual learning and experts working along non-experts. It explores how museum development can include external partners in reflexive processes, and how it in turn ensures a process that is rewarding for all partners involved.



Giasemi Vavoula

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Museum Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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