Driven by his passion for sharing science with the public, Michael Faraday (pictured left) set up an annual series of Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institution in London back in 1825. Faraday was a nineteenth century proponent of what we now call “outreach”: sharing his research with people outside his field of expertise. More than 180 years later, the lectures are still going.
But although most funding agencies and research institutions recognise the value of engaging the public about scientific research, performing outreach is often regarded as an add-on to a scientist’s day job, rather than an integral part of it. Worse, scientists who communicate their work to the media or the public sometimes encounter the view that these activities somehow make them second-class researchers, or that they are wasting valuable research time.
Does it have to be this way? Should more scientists be doing outreach, not just because it perfoms a valuable public service, but also because it could benefit them as scientists? Or do scientists simply have too much to do already? Should they simply focus on doing good science, and nothing else? We’ll be exploring these questions at a workshop that SciConnect is hosting at the Euroscience Open Forum 2012 (ESOF 2012) in Dublin this week. The workshop will explore whether engaging wider audiences should be part and parcel of doing science, and whether scientists who do so not only improve their career prospects, but can also enrich their research, increase its impact, and boost their ability to collaborate and innovate.
SciConnect directors Claire Ainsworth and Jon Copley will be speaking: Claire will be offering some tips on how to share research effectively with non-specialists, while Jon will talk about his experiences engaging wider audiences with his research as a full-time academic. They will be joined by Lena Raditsch, Head of Communications at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) who will give an institutional perspective, while Helen Goulding, director of Quercus Training, will talk about the transferable skills researchers can develop through outreach and how this can help them in their research careers.
If you’re at ESOF 2012, please come and join us! If not, and you’d like to know more, we’ll be tweeting from our workshop, so please follow us (@SciConnect) on Twitter. We’ll also post some updates on our blog about the workshop’s content, so watch this space.
Our ESOF 2012 workshop takes place on Thursday 12th July at 16:00; please see here for more details - http://bit.ly/PIfeGo