Pilot Study: Why Academics Should Engage With The Community


Dr Ian Moffat explaining ground penetrating radar to community members during a survey of the Innamincka Cemetery.
Julia Garnaut, Author provided

By Ian Moffat, Flinders University

Australian academics will soon have a new incentive to get off campus and into the community to engage with the people who ultimately fund their research – the taxpayers.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) is currently piloting a new scheme to quantify impact and engagement by academics. It’s part of proposed funding changes under the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

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“Chatt About Science” – What it Takes to Start a Science Cafe (Q&A)


Dr. Sarah Webb and Dr. Deanna Beasley outside a Chatt About Science event.

Can I interest you in a shot of science with your caramel macchiato?

Science cafes are popping up across the country and around the world.

The concept is simple, researchers chat with the public about their exciting work at a coffee bar, ‘real’ bar, or another public place. Instead of a technical presentation, the researchers share their stories in language easily understood by a diverse audience of non-scientists. Conversation, questions, and debate then follow with the goal of boosting public understanding of – and support for – science.

Most major cities have science cafe programs, but when freelance writer Dr. Sarah Webb moved to Chattanooga in 2012, she was surprised that the city didn’t have its own. It took a few years, but she started one herself – calling it Chatt About Science.

The first event took place November 2016. She’s currently planning number six. Each Chatt About Science attracts an average of 20 people to a local coffeehouse to learn about science. So far, topics have included plant ecology, chemistry, memory, urban ecology, and water quality.

In this Q & A, Dr. Sarah Webb shares what she learned as she brought Chatt About Science to life. Hopefully, this will inspire you to do the same in your community. Continue reading

Seven Things to Keep in Mind if You’re Going to March for Science


by Will J Grant, Australian National University and Rod Lamberts, Australian National University

On April 22 scientists around the world are downing microscopes, pipettes and lasers and declaring it’s time take a public stand and be counted. Standing shoulder to shoulder with their scientific kindred, they’ll raise fists to the sky, united with one voice and shouting “science is… [insert message here]!” The Conversation

The question is: what is the message?

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Should Writing for the Public Count Toward Tenure?

by Amy Schalet, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Many pressing issues have been calling for attention these days – the unprecedented increase in mortality rates among white Americans, the Black Lives Matter movement and the upending of the Republican Party.

At the root of many of these issues are complex sociological reasons. For example, there is good reason to believe that the rising mortality among white Americans is related to the declining economic fortunes of white working-class men over the past four decades.

But how is the general public to understand these issues? And how are they to know how best to respond to such concerns?

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The SCICOMM 25 (June 2016)

Shutterstock: http://ow.ly/IbV7h

Shutterstock: http://ow.ly/IbV7h

Welcome to the SCICOMM 25!

This is where I pull together 25 (or more) of the most talked about science communication stories, determined by the engagement rate of stories I’ve shared on Twitter. Many are written by the world’s leading science communicators.

Some offer tips and advice, while others tackle important issues we need to discuss and debate. All of them are worth checking out. Continue reading