From the President, June 2010: Inspiring Australia; national workshops; theatre; and ‘What is science?’

The Inspiring Australia report has been much on my mind and in my actions. I again met with DIISR staff to discuss the role ASC can and will play in promoting several of the recommendations in the report. Perhaps ASC’s profile is growing as I was invited to a meeting to explore evaluation tools (part of Recommendation 15 in the report) and have since been invited to participate in a steering committee on the same topic.

In late June I will be speaking at a workshop of state government representatives whose role is to help implement actions related to the Inspiring Australia report. I’ll give a brief presentation about aspects of science communication in Australia and also seek support for some ASC initiatives.

The first project in the pipeline is a series of professional development workshops for early 2011. The idea is for several ASC branches to present one day events within 10-14 days of each other. The national body will organise a keynote presenter to feature at each event. The workshops will be done in collaboration with another like minded professional association. News of this will be forthcoming as the pieces fall into place. This activity will provide a cost-effective alternative to a national multi-day conference, put a spotlight on the branches and result in a number of significant new relationships with professional bodies and more than one level of government.

I admit to working on a pet project or two. In March I read that Alan Alda (of TV M*A*S*H fame and much more) has been involved in starting a training course for early career scientists and engineers in improvisational theatre techniques. I note that our ACT branch is running an event about learning how to impro (on 23 June). Great minds think alike. I’m exploring whether ASC can be involved in setting up a nationwide training course in improv theatre techniques for scientists. I’ll keep you posted.

The ‘What is science?’ project is developing slowly but with purpose. I received more than 15 responses from members on the topic and will form a group to digest the material. Everyone I’ve discussed this project has seen its value. Susannah Eliott suggested that the topic could be called ‘Where is the evidence?’ and ‘Who is the source?’ These phrases were so good I suggested that ABC’s Catalyst consider ‘Where’s the evidence and who’s the source?’ as a regular segment for the program. I await to see if raising this flag gets their salute.

I recently enjoyed meeting with the rejuvenated South Australian branch of ASC. I was impressed at the good relationships they have established with RiAus and the Australian Science Media Centre. The energetic committee has also lined up a creative program of events such as a tour of the new biodiversity gallery at the South Australian Museum. Excellent presentations by museum staff revealed how they successfully addressed challenges to communicate science effectively in the gallery setting and to create an engaging exhibition experience. I look forward to meeting with other committees soon.

Jesse Shore
National President