A Model For Training Scientists in Science-Society Relations

A recent article at the journal Science Communication reports on an innovative EU program that trained scientists in public engagement and science-society relations. Along with the Leopold Leadership Program, it is perhaps the best initiative to be developed to date and should be part of the blueprint for state-of-the-art training programs in the United States.

One of the program coordinators and authors of the article is Declan Fahy, who will be joining our faculty in the School of Communication at American University later this year. An experienced newspaper journalist, Fahy is finishing his Ph.D. at Dublin City University in Ireland, where his dissertation examines the nature and impact of celebrity scientists such as Richard Dawkins, James Lovelock, and Stephen Hawking.

Below is the abstract to the article which provides a useful summary of the program. You can read the full text here:


Can Science Communication Workshops Train Scientists for Reflexive Public Engagement?
The ESConet Experience


Steve Miller
University College London, U.K., s.miller@ucl.ac.uk

Declan Fahy
Dublin City University, Ireland, University College London, U.K.

The ESConet Team

The European Science Communication Network, between 2005 and 2008, created and delivered original communication training workshops to more than 170 researchers, primarily early-career scientists, to empower them to perform reflexive public engagement activities in various communication situations. The program designed 12 original teaching modules for science communication that not only delivered skills training, including writing for popular audiences and media interview skills, but also developed capacity in, among other areas, risk communication, communicating science in dialogue, and examining controversies within the scientific community. The workshops aimed to encourage scientists to reflect critically on the social, historical, cultural, and ethical dimensions of science.

Key Words: public engagement • dialogue • communications training • media skills • deficit model

Science Communication, Vol. 31, No. 1, 116-126 (2009)
DOI: 10.1177/1075547009339048

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why is 18 the age of adulthood if the brain can take 30 years to mature?

Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.

Mind & Brain
  • Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
  • Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
  • The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Keep reading Show less

Believe in soulmates? You're more likely to 'ghost' romantic partners.

Does believing in true love make people act like jerks?

Thought Catalog via Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • Ghosting, or cutting off all contact suddenly with a romantic partner, is not nice.
  • Growth-oriented people (who think relationships are made, not born) do not appreciate it.
  • Destiny-oriented people (who believe in soulmates) are more likely to be okay with ghosting.
Keep reading Show less

Mini-brains attach to spinal cord and twitch muscles

A new method of growing mini-brains produces some startling results.

(Lancaster, et al)
Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new and inexpensive way to keep organoids growing for a year.
  • Axons from the study's organoids attached themselves to embryonic mouse spinal cord cells.
  • The mini-brains took control of muscles connected to the spinal cords.
Keep reading Show less