President’s update

Thank you to Joan Leach for the update!

Not enough happening?

At our last National Council meeting, the representatives from our branches gave a bit of an overview of the activities that have been going on around Australia. There are science and film nights, cafe scientifiques, professional development meetings, networking and speed networking events, and even awards nights (check out our Unsung Heroes!) as we recognise each other’s strengths. It is pretty amazing the volume and quality of activities that are designed to support and develop us as science communicators. To add to that, I was just in Sydney for the Inspiring Australia Engagement Summit. There, I heard about what IA officers are doing to interact with ASC professionals and encourage keen volunteers in their local communities to give science communication ‘a go’. It’s impressive. Very occasionally, someone grumbles to me that ‘there is not enough happening’ in science communication. I’ve always given such grumbles short shrift but I think what is really being said is that ‘there is so much happening, it’s hard to characterise’. And, that’s different. I’ve also been inspired by the ways in which ASC members have characterised it themselves—for example, AUSSCM just launched SciMEX to be a hub for experts to tell their stories about Australian science (and review others!), the RiAus has launched their own digital channel, and the Australian Academy of Science has re-launched NOVA (a website with a wealth of digital content). And, I’ve sat at a table with ASC members from each of these organisations who clearly characterised what makes these different, but very complementary efforts to improve the availability and quality of digital science content. Not enough happening? No way. And, ASC members are also good at characterising the wealth of what they produce.

Soft power of science communication

One of the most stimulating discussions at the Sydney IA summit was had with colleagues from DFAT (I don’t usually get to write such things) about science diplomacy. Usually this refers to scientists in one country working with scientists from another to achieve a larger goal (the SKA or other big international science project). But, then, what is scienceinpublic doing when it puts out “Stories of Australian Science 2015”? Isn’t this a kind of science communication diplomacy, with science communicators making conversations among industry and governments in different countries possible? I’d say it is. So, it was so rewarding to find that colleagues at DFAT immediately saw a value in science communication in the cultural diplomacy area. Another thing that science communicators do—they are cultural ambassadors. I’m actually very keen on collecting examples of this from around Australia. So, if you think your organisation is doing this, please give me a shout by email.

Soft launch of STEM consultation

You may have missed it; I nearly did!  However, as you see in this month’s SCOPE, there is an open consultation on “Vision for a Science Nation”. ASC needs to make a contribution here—there is a lot in this paper about science engagement and that is great.  I think we need to underscore our value,  remind government about our continuing professional contributions to ’the science nation’, and even talk about how we’ve used the national strategy, Inspiring Australia, for good. I’m also keen to represent members views.  I’ll put a note on LinkedIn where you can comment or just email me on j.leach@uq.edu.au. But don’t wait, consultation is over at the end of July so I’d like to get your views by the 20th.