Nomination for ASC President 2015 – Associate Professor Joan Leach

I am pleased to announce there is one nomination for the position of National President of Australian Science Communicators for the upcoming AGM: Associate Professor Joan Leach.

Joan has been nominated by Will Grant and seconded by Ruth Neale.

Please see below for Joan’s nomination statement.

Click here for more information on the 2014 AGM.

– Sarah Lau, National Secretary 

 

Nomination for President of ASC 2015

Associate Professor Joan Leach

j.leach@uq.edu.au

 

I am happy to nominate for a second term as ASC President for a very simple reason—unfinished business! Over the past year, ASC has made some real strides, some of them behind the scenes, but crucial for our sustainability and growth as a voluntary professional organisation.

Some ‘highlights’ from the past year:

  • A stellar national conference in Brisbane in February
  • Special Interest Groups ‘getting off the ground’ (SCREN and a new forming group K*)
  • A complete review and audit of our financial systems
  • A review of our status as a Not-for-profit
  • The initiation of a professional development grant scheme

Now, I cannot take credit for these highlights—each of the highlights has a name or a group of names of ASC members (and our stellar Executive Officer, Kali Madden) against it. I will be acknowledging these stellar members at the AGM and in the end of year wrap-up for our newsletter, SCOPE. But, what this reveals is that, despite significant external pressures in our sector, science communicators remain committed to doing what they do best and also contributing to their own professional community. I want to continue to support and develop initiatives like these above over the next year and create a sustainable and vibrant professional community for our members.

Last year when I nominated for President, I identified the following issues as areas I wanted to explore: Benchmarking and ‘professionalization’ of the field, special interest groups, pursuing ethical guidelines, and raising awareness of the field. I’ve done that and want to continue those projects as outlined below:

Raising awareness of the field of Science Communication

Given cuts across CSIRO, the unsettled state of Australian Science Policy (what is it?), and funding cuts to the science sector, it is understatement to say that science communicators are working harder than ever to secure their roles. It is also the case that science communicators are needed more than ever to make the case for science, for engagement, and even for social change in the face of scientific evidence. I want to continue to make the ASC visible as the professional organisation for science communicators on national committees and in the national discussion.

Professionalization

This is a long-term interest of our association. In the past year, the AQF (Australian Quality Framework) standards have come into play across the Australian TAFE and Tertiary sectors. While as an academic, they’ve added to my workload, as President of ASC I can see how this framework can provide some guidelines as we go forward thinking about accreditation and the professionalization of our field.

 

Ethics Codes

Over the last year, I’ve had conversations across our organisation about ethics codes—nearly all of the people I’ve spoken to seem to think that we need some codes of professional practice and ethics to which we can point. I agree. The difficulty has been in the range of professional practices a ‘science communicator’ is engaged. One solution I’d like to explore in 2015 is to look to science journalism for one code of professional practice, to PR/strategic communication for another code and perhaps an ‘academic code’ for other members. We needn’t seek a one code fits all solution; rather, let’s have a set of professional guidelines at the ready for the multiple roles we take on. Yes, there will be grey areas—let’s make those productive. What, for example, should guide relationships among journalists and PR practitioners? That’s an important question to answer and by having codes for both sets of practices we can begin working on the areas of grey.

 

Special Interest Groups (SIGS)

Over the past year, more members have expressed interest in joining a thematically oriented group of colleagues. So, SCREN (Science Communication Research and Education Network) is one such SIG that has produced results. We plan to kick off a K* (knowledge brokering group) in early 2015. There may be others. We can discuss at the AGM and elsewhere how we might resource such groups to support their work and build professional development out of these special interest.

 

Professional Development

We’ve been organising a set of bootcamps for 2015—these will be run for members, by members. We will be supporting these through online portals which will allow us to share some of the excellent work our members do and learn from each other. Building a broad skill set is important to science communicators, so we want to support that.