Kate & Kristin: At Bridge8 we’re passionate about the importance of science communication for society. The Science Communicators meeting this week has encouraged us to think about some of Bridge8’s priorities and recent activities in Science Communications. Essentially our recent activities have embraced five key areas as follows:
- Encouraging strategic approaches
- Improving scientists skills
- Encouraging public engagement with, and access to science
- Promoting science education in context
- The value of new media
We’ve worked in science communications activities with research institutions, government departments, corporates, educational bodies and the general public. Read more about some of our recent projects:
Encouraging strategic approaches
We’re currently working with a major pharmaceutical company on developing communications strategies and have delivered marketing strategies for Nanotechnology Victoria. In addition to working with corporate clients, we’ve been developing a strategic framework to consider nanotechnology capabilities, skills and public uses of nanotechnology applications as part of a project we’ve conducted with Flinders University.
Improving scientists skills
We’ve worked with clients including BHPBilliton and Nanotechnology Victoria to improve approaches and competencies in science communications for professional scientists and engineers. This has included developing an appreciation of alternative approaches to sharing information through the use of visuals and stories in addition to technical data and encouraging the use of diverse techniques including blogs, podcasts, website content, brochures, booklets and reports.
Encouraging public engagement with and access to science
At Bridge8, we firmly believe in science in a context that is responsive to and engaged with wider society. Future challenges require a ‘social challenges driven research agenda’ and ‘Civic Scientists’ that consider social and environmental contexts and impacts. To encourage science based decision making we need to encourage open access science and to ensure that science is clearly communicated to the public.
We blog frequently on policies, trends and initiatives around public engagement and access to science. Some recent examples:
- Terms in the paragraph above are based on insights from scientist Andrew Maynard. You can read his manifesto for science here.
- More musings on open science here driven by the the Federal Innovation report.
We also promote public engagement with science through our presentations and workshops. Kristin’s presentation to COMS08 is one example , another is a recent presentation at the Independent Schools Association in Queensland on the impacts of emerging technologies.
Promoting Science Education in Context
For a smart future we need to all our students to value science. Kristin challenged educators at COMS07 to realise that “science is dead” unless we can reinvigorate education so that it teaches science within the context of wider society. Developing educational materials that provide science and technology in context is one of our key strengths here at Bridge8. Some recent programs and materials include:
- The innovative ‘Utility Fog’ workshop, which encourages an examination of the social impacts of new technologies;
- Our work on the award winning nanotechnology school resource SHINE and the national nanotechnology on-line school resource AccessNano
One of the ways that we have promoted a deeper connection with science is by embracing interaction between science and art. At Bridge8 we have reported on science-art collaborations in this blog and have been involved with arts masterclasses through the Australian Network for Art and Technology (Kristin is a board member). We followed with interest Leah Heiss’s artist-in-residency at Nanotechnology Victoria which resulted in the creation of jewellery for drug delivery (pictured). We introduced arts based activities in our materials such as the shape memory alloy module in AccessNano.
The value of New Media
We believe that new Web-based Media provides exciting opportunities for communication of science:
- We use this blog to provide information about recent developments in science and innovation policy and to highlight emerging trends that may impact on science based industries. It is also part of our effort to start conversations about science education and engagement, innovation and leadership. We also converse with online science communities through twitter and facebook. You can converse with us on twitter through @kristinalford, @sciencesarah, @AlexandraSmart, @b8travels, or become a fan of bridge8 on facebook.
- We’ve encouraged scientists and innovators to communicate with partners and the public through Web 2.0. You can see our guides to re-invigorating your work practice with Web 2.0 here and here.