Session 5B - Public engagement in practice

Room 3.22


Facing out: Talking to different audiences, from different perspectives, about faces and facial disfigurement

Karen Lander (University of Manchester, UK)

In today’s appearance-conscious society, the way you look has become increasingly important.  However, there are estimated to be over 400,000 people in the UK severely affected by facial disfigurement. In this talk we evaluate our public engagement events, which considered face identity and the impact of facial disfigurement.  We explore the process of development and the methods used to bring different audiences together.

Our events drew on researchers from different disciplines including psychology, plastic surgery, social anthropology and art (see here). We consider the benefits of working together and reflect on what we have learned about science communication in practice.


Hands-on Science and Debate Engagement Alters Teenage Student Perception of Developmental Science Health: Local Practice with Global Relevance

Lucy R Green (University of Southampton, UK)

Young people need to know that disrupting the natural environment during the first 1000 days of life (conception-2 years) increases the life-long risk of non-communicable disease, like diabetes or heart disease. Understanding this could improve health of the next generation, globally. Health-perception and -science understanding were assessed in 16-17 year olds following talks, hands-on laboratory experiments and a question time panel debate.

This small UK study highlighted the short-term effectiveness of dynamic engagement on young people’s perception of their future health and understanding of the role of diet in pregnancy in giving the best chance of adult health to the next generation. This project has relevance to the role of young people in combating non-communicable disease risks, worldwide.


Science in conflict

Katherine McAlpine (Imperial War Museum, UK); John Glancy (Imperial War Museum, UK)

How might a national museum and leading authority on conflict and its impact approach the scientific advances its collections represent? How can a STEM learning programme contribute to a global citizenship agenda? Are the ethical considerations of science and technology less important than learning outcomes predicated entirely on knowledge? Or are they merely less marketable to teachers? This year IWM’s Public Engagement and Learning team asked themselves these questions as they embarked on a new STEM learning programme. This research presentation reflects on their process and plans for embedding evaluation into the future.


Constructing Invisible Worlds: Balancing ambition to build an “eco-scientific” narrative

David Judge (University of the West of England, UK)

This presentation creates a picture of science exhibitions as a process, drawing on PhD research with the team behind the Eden Project’s new exhibition, Invisible Worlds. By conceptualising the exhibition’s production as a constant negotiation for legitimacy and authenticity, I explain the strategies by which the exhibition’s “eco-scientific” narrative is constructed and embodied. I discuss how high ambitions were balanced against constrained resources and how this influenced the exhibition itself. Many science communication projects make this same balance between resource and ambition. Using the Eden Project as an exemplar, I discuss what Invisible Worlds can teach us about science communication practice.