We wish you all a happy holiday season. As 2012 draws to a close, we’re reflecting on a diverse and full year. Our responses to the question “What does your business do?” seem to perplex. Foresight or science engagement is rarely a category, so we try on consulting services, training, event management, multimedia, graphic design and freelance writing until something clicks. However for us, the question underpinning all our projects is how do science and foresight inform the future? Here’s what has been keeping us busy and creative in 2012:
Animations & Visuals
- The Critical Thinking animations were picked up globally and featured in Brainpickings, io9, Neatorama and Geek Dad in Wired. The animations were part of a broader education resource featuring a module for schools and postcards and booklets on Dodgy Arguments released by TechNyou.
- James’s Synthetic Biology Explained animation was picked up as part of a review of synbio in The Atlantic, and used by Dr Jacob Cohen, Chief Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in his talk at TEDxSugarland
- We launched our series on “Gee! Mmm! Oh!” featuring three animations on genetic modification in food, exploring “what is it”, “what could it do?” and “where to from here?”
- We commenced a second series on critical thinking titled “This thing called science” with the episode on “Citizen Science” launched at Science Rewired in October. The full series is due for completion and release by TechNyou in early March.
- Also due early next year for TechNyou are two animations on scale and properties in nanotechnology to complement the existing education resources.
- We’ve also been working with Boston-based company Global Visions and Seattle-based company New Water Resources on scripting six animations titled “Water: Think & Drink” for the Australia Water Recycling Centre of Excellence. We are now waiting approval to proceed to production.
Events & Community Building
- I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here! ran in both May and August, with 1677 students, 1509 approved questions and 109 live chats. Thanks to NETS-PACE & TechNyou, DMITRE SA, the University of Adelaide, the University of Queensland and the South Australian Museum for supporting these events and to our students, teachers and scientists from all states and territories for being a part of it. We’re looking forward to a similarly packed scheduled for 2012, with our first event scheduled for March.
- Our monthly Twitter chat #onsci has continued with topics covering education, online media, industry extension, marketing and research, including a submission to the McKeon Review. #onsci is a collaboration between us, Sarah Keenihan and Heather Bray, and we have also welcomed guest hosts Vanessa Hill (as part of the ANU’s Science Communication course) and Charlotte Pezaro.
- Changes to our TEDxAdelaide program saw us partner with the Collaborative Cities Exhibition (reflecting on the work of the Integrated Design Commission) to host TEDxAdelaide City2.0 at Tuxedo Cat. Volunteer Petra Dzurovcinova became the licensee for TEDxAdelaideWomen which was held in partnership with the University of South Australia. Kristin also attended the TEDxSummit in Doha in April with 700 other licensees from around the globe. Next year we will host TEDxAdelaide with the University of Adelaide and look for further opportunities for specialised events.
- From our online science expertise, we assisted the South Australian Museum in their preparation of a digital communications strategy.
- We worked with various Natural Resource Management Boards and teams in DEWNR from the South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin and Adelaide Mt Lofty Ranges to revisit vision and strategic intent to inform regional plans and projects.
- Kristin facilitated a strategic planning workshop on mind and body mastery with MAD Consultancy and the Energy Clinic for Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia-Pacific.
- The foresight process we conducted with St John Ambulance SA was extended by contributing advice and visuals related to purpose and brand.
- Kristin chaired the Forum on Synthetic Biology Forum for NETS-PACE following the international Human Genome Meeting.
- Kristin facilitated a session on “Coming, going or staying?” for the Capital City Committee Emerging Leaders’ Forum, and a session with a similar group on community consultation around rebranding South Australia.
- Golf Management Australia – South Australia invited us to present a session on the future of golf.
- We designed and facilitated a strategic planning day for Renewal SA.
Teaching & Workshops
- We are currently on the second stage of preparing an online training course for scientists on social media in association with Econnect Communications and the Australia Science Media Centre. This continues our work on effective online engagement that we’ve discussed via panels at the Australian Science Communicators Conference in February and at Science Meets Parliament in September.
- We’ve been working with the Leaders’ Institute of South Australia in developing modules on Strategic Foresight. These modules have been delivered as a component in the Integral Leader Course, as well as part of a program on developing leadership capacity for Natural Resource Management Boards.
- Kristin has continued to teach at the University of Adelaide in Foresight & Social Change and Business & Carbon Management
- Both Kristin and James have presented guest lectures on online and visual science communication for the University of Adelaide and for the University of Queensland.
Technology foresight & research
- We participated and presented on “Opportunities for Advanced Manufacturing in SA” at the 3D Printing Workshop co-hosted by Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT), DFEEST, Intel US and the RiAus.
- Kristin continued as a member of the National Enabling Technologies Strategy Expert Forum which wound up in November. She presented her Perspectives on doing Science and Technology Foresight in Government at the Asia-Pacific Foresight Conference in Perth and the final report from the Expert Forum will be publsihed early next year.
- An article on “The Complex Futures of Emerging Technologies: Challenges and Opportunities for Science Foresight and Governance in Australia” by Kristin Alford, Sarah Keenihan and Steven McGrail was published in the Journal of Futures Studies (vol. 16, no. 4, June 2012).
- (edit) Thanks to Dr Chris Slape, we are reminded that we also hosted “At the Bar: Your Accessible Genome” – a panel at a pub to discuss the implications of cheap and accesible genomics. Thanks to Chris, Janette Edson and Prof Garrett Cullity for their expertise.
- With Econnect Communications and the Australian Science Communicators, we have been conducting an audit of science engagement activities in Australia. This project included several focus groups and an online survey to examine how professionals were engaging the Australian public in science so as to identify gaps and inform collaboration opportunities.
- Following on from participation in the Australian Academy of Sciences workshop held in July 2011, Kristin continued to edit the chapter on social perspectives for the upcoming book “Negotiating our future: Living scenarios for Australia to 2050” (to be launched in February 2012). As an accompaniment to this work, Kristin also co-chaired the Theo Murphy High Flyers Think Tank held in Adelaide this year on “Australia’s Population: Shaping a vision for our future“, the recommendations of which were launched by Minister Tom Kenyon in December. We are now working to progress Phase 2 on exploring how a national living scenarios process might work.
- Finally, we stretched our science writing interests with James writing several articles for Swinburne’s Magazine Venture on topics including oceanography, sensing and detection, civil engineering, optical physics and photosynthesis.
- And assisted with content development of materials on biodiversity, climate change, land use and water for the new Environment Institute website at the University of Adelaide.
It’s quite a list, and we acknowledge that documenting our progress is as much for us to take stock as it is to share the diversity of what we do at Bridge8. A big thank you to all of our clients, especially NETS-PACE, the Leaders Institute of South Australia and the Australian Academy of Sciences for your ongoing encouragement and support. We welcome further enquires, so if our list has inspired you in relation to a problem you’re working on, please contact us. We are looking forward to more animations, leadership development and the opportunity to extend our involvement in science engagement and foresight processes in 2013.