Science Engagement in Australia

Australia’s first snapshot of science engagement

The first national audit of its kind ever to be held in Australia recorded information about 411 different activities that aim to engage ordinary people with science. The survey asked for engagement activities held between January 2011 and June 2013.

The online survey, open from July to September 2012, gathered activities from universities, science centres, museums, zoos, CSIRO, businesses and private individuals.

The audit was funded by the Federal Government’s Inspiring Australia program. It aimed to gain a national picture of science engagement activities so that people involved in science communication could access the data to research trends, discover new ideas, look for complementary projects and avoid duplication of activities. The majority of activities recorded that they:

  • target large groups of school-aged children and the general public, and are less likely to target specific groups such as farmers, businesses and community groups
  • involve presentations, seminars, lectures, educational activities or visits to schools or regional communities
  • are about biological and environmental sciences (and not so much about information and computing, engineering or mathematical sciences)
  • involve people learning from watching, listening or viewing lectures, media or exhibits and, to a lesser extent, asking questions or interactive inquiry (and rarely about group problem-solving, consulting or sharing views)
  • commonly use websites, face to face interactions, social media, newsletters and traditional media as tools of engagement
  • are about ongoing science, and to a lesser extent about completed science (and rarely about gaining funding or support before or during the science, or about shaping the science question)
  • focus activities on ‘understanding of the natural and human-made world’ (and rarely about ‘institutional priority or public policy change related to science and technology’).

ASC VisualiserTo further investigate the results from the audit, you can interact with bubble or map visual representations of the results through the tool developed on the Australian Science Communicators website.

You can also download a copy of the full report of the survey and seven focus groups held with science communication professionals around Australia [National Audit Final Report_20-01-13-FINAL 6 MB], or find more information about the national audit on the ASC website.

Inspiring Australia has funded a new project to make the data fully accessible via an interactive website where people can update their data or add new data about their science engagement activities. The new website is expected to be ready by May 2013.

Bridge8 worked with Econnect Communication and the Australian Science Communicators (ASC) to conduct the 2012 audit, and this team are also working on the new website project.

For more information, contact: Jenni Metcalfe, Econnect Director, jenni@econnect.com.au, ph 0408 551 866 or Jesse Shore, Immediate Past President ASC, jesse@prismaticsciences.com, ph 0415 841 276

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