Engaging Diversity

As researchers in the environmental sciences we are often being told that we should engage with more diverse audiences, but why should we bother? Isn’t this just a box that needs to be ticked? Why should we spend more of our time and other resources actively targeting these audiences? Can’t we just do what we normally do and give an assembly at our local school / run a stand at a science fair / give a talk at a science café and be done with it?
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AccessLab 2018: a new workshop series

We’re looking for researchers at any stage of their career to take part, from second year of a PhD. We’re also looking for non-researchers working in a fishing or marine sector, journalism or blogging as well as parliamentary, council and policy workers.

All over the UK, there are communities and individuals who need access to reliable information relating to science. Those with medical complaints or working in healthcare roles benefit from access to the latest research, those in policy-making roles can only develop evidence-based policies with access to the best information, and all of us can struggle to work out whether a ‘fact’ presented in the media is reliable or not. A vast body of peer-reviewed scientific information is freely available, but few know how to find and use it. Improving access to this information is a move towards knowledge-equality.

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AccessLab is a new public engagement format that aims to improve access to and the judgement of information, through direct citizen-scientist pairings. Why now?

AccessLab – in partnership with BSA and FoAM

A day doesn’t go by without the terms ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth’ being bandied about, both of which have highlighted the difficulties people face when trying to find trustworthy sources of information. The ability to judge the reliability of different sources of information, whether it’s political, social or scientific, is a skill that can be learned.

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Building informal city centre science spaces to reach the hard-to-reach

There are many reasons why academics, funders and universities want to find better ways to  involve the public in research. Underpinning most are common concepts; social equity, inclusivity and responsible use of tax payer’s money. ‘Science for all’ has been a policy driver for decades, and yet students from poorer families are still less likely to study science post 16, and less likely to do well when they do. As such, many of us working on public engagement with research do so with an eye to targeting ‘hard to reach’ audiences. These are generally those publics from cultural and socio economic demographics with traditionally low level of participation in science and, more broadly, in higher education. Despite inclusivity-facing public engagement, however, hard to reach audiences remain just that. Many of us will have participated in science festivals, workshops and outreach events where it is all too clear we are ‘preaching to the converted’; targeting the same already-engaged audiences again and again.

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Increasing science capital with citizen science

It is far too tempting to be dismissive of emerging buzzwords or sparkly new concepts as merely the re-emergence of established wisdom dressed in the latest fashionable ‘new-speak’. Occasionally however, a term will come along that helps us re-evaluate the place science has in society. The term ‘science capital’, a measure of an individual’s relationship with science, is just such a word, and to pluck another buzzy phrase out of the zeitgeist, it offers a chance to ‘check your privilege’ (perhaps a topic for another post!).

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