President’s update

Thank you to Joan Leach for preparing this month’s President’s update.

Precaution or Proaction?
For this Scope update, I’m sitting at the airport in Brisbane with a latte looking ahead to a conference in the US on Social Epistemology (this is an academic way of referring to the study of how knowledge travels in social groups).  I like to think of it as the philosophical arm of science communication.  At the conference, I’m looking forward to a discussion panel on the “Proactive Principle” which Steve Fuller has suggested to counter the “Precautionary Principle.” Some people think that using the precautionary principle to guide action and thinking about science and technology has become, on the one hand, too limiting, on the other, inadequate and reactive to new developments.  Not sure what I think about this yet, but am looking forward to the debate and I will report back via LinkedIn on this one.

Thinking about some professional development?
ASC has just launched a small-grant scheme to support professional development.  Find information on it here.  I’m especially pleased to see the Peter Pockley grant for PD in investigative science journalism.  Peter was a tireless advocate for science communication and I was very lucky to have him as a mentor when I moved to Australia.  He was able to be passionate about science and technology as well as critical of sloppy thinking, greed, and short-termism in the science and technology sector.  I very much miss his voice on the Australian scene but try to keep it in my head as I go about my work.  I hope that one of our members can take advantage of this small grant to support some work Peter would have been proud of.

Results from Inspiring Australia
In this issue of Scope, I’m giving a short summary of some research that was done on science communication in Australia, funded by the Inspiring Australia strategy.  I’m asking my colleagues around Australia who did the research to summarise some inspiring, puzzling, frustrating,  or just fascinating findings from their research over the past few years–we’ll have short summaries of these in Scope for the rest of the year.  I’ll also post these to LinkedIn so we can talk about them.

I’m almost ready to board and will sadly trade my latte for what my partner calls ‘American-style School Meeting in a basement coffee’.  I fear he’s right; let’s hope the discussion at the conference will be better than the coffee.