CONNECT 21 the fifth edition of the DAAD-funded CONNECT series established in 2017. Project CONNECT is initiated by scientists from Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Croatia, who are active in the field of theoretical/mathematical physics and experimental/applied physics. The participating Universities of the Western Balkan countries which contribute to the realization of the Symposium are the University of Tuzla, University of Mostar, University of Banja Luka, University of Novi Sad, and the University of Zagreb. 

The CONNECT is, however, not focused on the exchange of scientific ideas, but on the discussion of science promotion and its impact on civil society in the region. With Bosnia-Herzegovina being at the stepping-stone to become a member of the European Union it is of utmost importance to bridge the ethnic and political gaps between the different parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina (and in the Western Balkans region) and to strengthen the democratization process and to insist on equal rights of all individuals and all constituent peoples in accordance with the Constitution. In order to tackle these issues, the CONNECT Symposium has been installed. 

The participating Universities are the University of Tuzla, University of Mostar, University of Banja Luka, University of Novi Sad, and the University of Zagreb, but participation is open to all students from the Western Balkans.

CONNECT 21 is planned as a 5-day workshop in Neum (Bosnia-Hercegovina) in August 2021. We bring together a broad spectrum of outreach professionals student participants for talks and hands-on projects enabling the young participants to start their own outreach projects. The participants are selected in an open application process from the universities in Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia. By this, we strengthen the existing network between the regional Universities and the German partner universities on the senior level (Professors) and on the early career and student level.

The workshop is supplemented by a long-term mentoring program to promote cooperation and to strengthen the dialogue between different ethnic groups. The highlight of the mentoring program is a 3-day masterclass (planned in Rep. Srpska/B-H) where students will receive intensive training in science communication and identify topics on which they will work with their mentors. Besides the mentoring program, there are short visiting events in order to prepare students for a mentoring program and to participate in live events with the mentors in their cities. This seeds and strengthens the cross-border academic exchange and fosters professional collaboration in the Western Balkans region. 

Mentors and key speakers are carefully selected to represent the ethnic diversity of the region, to promote female participation as a role model for the students, and to include representatives from the civil society, e.g. from NGOs, politics, or the private sector.

Finally, we want to stress that the communication of science and the creation of trust in the scientific method is especially at the moment of extremely high socio-political significance. The pandemic has clearly shown how important it is to fight fake news and speculation to stand up against the infodemic.