ASC 2010 National Conference: Themes

Previous ASC national conferences have mixed sessions presenting science with science communication issues and workshops/seminars on techniques.

The 2010 program is a little different.  This year we will be emphasizing science reporting and include a new academic/research component.  The 2010 conference also hosts the third of our hugely popular Hot Air symposia looking at communicating climate change issues to the public.

ASC President, Tim Thwaites said, “The ASC conference 2010 reflects the ‘coming of age’ of science communication as a serious area of study and employment.”

The sessions over the three days reflect the following themes:

  • The Challenges and Future of Communicating Science;
  • Reporting and Communicating Complex Issues to a Lay Audience; and
  • The Use of Social Media and the Arts in Communicating Science.

This year’s conference will actively include a social media component both in the program and in communicating to the ASC membership in web-based discussions before and after.  Not forgetting a strong program of social events for more informal discussions in Canberra’s finest cafes and restaurants.

For more information, see the ASC Conference 2010 website (event code: 7DNY37XD2S5) or contact the Conference Organiser.

Cool Communicators, Hot Air and the National Science Communication Strategy

Earlybird registration is now open for the hotly-anticipated 2010 ASC National Conference. Book now as an ASC member for a special $100 discount off the standard rate (offer closes 15 January).  To register, please enter the special event code: 7DNY37XD2S5

Not a member?  Not a problem.  Join today for immediate conference discounts, access to the members-only mailing lists and the opportunity to post news, jobs, tips and comments to the new ASC website ( and all National Conference social media.

Interested in presenting?  The second Call For Papers is open for keen ASCers willing to speak to a topical issue in science communication.  Find out more about submissions here.

At this special Conference you will be able to:

* Immerse yourself in the online forum to accompany conference registration
* Get to grips with contemporary social media challenges first-hand in the new social media strand
* Take a front-row seat at the debate over the National Science Communication Strategy
* Join the third and final Hot Air Symposium on best practice in climate change communication
* Get involved in a network of over 350 Australian science communication professionals and the international science community.

Find out more at the 2010 ASC National Conference website, browse the FAQs, or contact us for more information.  See you in Canberra!

The ASC 2010 National Conference Team
events [at]

Science communication qualifications at UWA

The University of Western Australia UWA has been offering science communication qualifications since 2002.

Courses cover a broad range of topics including writing, presenting, performing, media, creating displays, consulting and practical work experience.

Campus: Perth

Offerings: Undergraduate and Postgraduate

Most courses can be undertaken in a flexible part time format to fit around work or other commitments. Students may enrol in the following programs:

Undergraduate Bachelor of Science (with a major in Science Communication)

Bachelor of Science Honours Degree Bachelor of Science (Science Communication)

Postgraduate Graduate Certificate in Science Communication

Graduate Diploma in Science Communication

Master of Science Communication and Education (Graduates are qualified to teach science in high school or work in any science-related organisation that has an education mandate. People who have completed a Graduate Diploma of Education or equivalent can apply for up to one year of credit towards this degree.)

Master of Science Communication (by research and coursework)

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

For more information:

Contact: Associate Professor Nancy Longnecker, Program Coordinator | nancy.longnecker [at] | +61 8 6488 3926

Essay: Communicating the science of climate change in a sceptical world

This is an excerpt from Dr Carmen Lawrence’s paper from the ASC Hot Air symposium in Perth, presented 24 March 2009.

Communicating the science of climate change in a sceptical world: Opportunities for shaping individual behaviours through communicating the science of climate change

In Australia, 75% of voters believe that climate change is a major problem and support government action to introduce energy efficiency, clean electricity generation and motor vehicle emissions reductions. Generally speaking, however, in most of the world climate change is rated as a lesser priority than other, more personally relevant issues. The Lowy Institute poll of 2007 found that Australians rated tackling climate change after improving education and health as the most important goals for Australia.

A recent Australian survey showed very little awareness among the public of what emissions trading is all about – more than half said they had have “no idea” what an emissions trading scheme is and 17% had never heard of the concept. A whopping 93% indicated that they know either little or nothing about the proposed changes. This may have improved since the introduction of the CPRS, although I doubt it, given the level of abstraction at which the debate is conducted and the absence of any systematic public education.

It has been suggested that the lack of information and the existence of basic misperceptions are likely to “inhibit the public’s ability to participate meaningfully in democratic discussions of the issue, to understand how their own actions affect the climate and to fully and accurately appreciate how climate change will affect our future” (p 261). Recommendations for behaviour and policy change which do not account of these limitations are likely to founder. Policy makers need to reinforce accurate beliefs and correct inaccurate ones while linking effective solutions to the explicitly stated causes.

But is should also be understood that even if people generally come to view climate change as a problem and recognise that human actions are the cause, they will not necessarily change their behaviour to any extent. The assumption that educating and informing people will change their attitudes and beliefs – and hence their behaviour – is simply wrong, although it is a surprisingly common prescription for solving social problems. While information is essential to such change, it is rarely sufficient, especially when there are barriers – personal, social and economic – which prevent pro-environmental attitudes being expressed in action; the so-called “attitude-behaviour gap”.

About the author:

Dr Carmen Lawrence retired from politics in 2007 after being the first woman Premier in Australia as Premier of Western Australia, a Federal MP and President of the Australian Labour Party. She is currently a Professorial Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Studies at The University of Western Australia where she is establishing a research centre focussing on social change. One topic of concentration for the centre will be climate change.

Download the full paper as a PDF

Social media tools from Web 2.0 in museums conference

List of useful social media tools referenced during the conference, 5 & 6 March 2009.  This was organised by Museums Australia (Victoria) and Swinburne University in partnership with Melbourne Museum.  Attendees from SA, NSW, TAS, QLD, VIC and Europe participated in masterclasses and conference sessions exploring the uses of web 2.0 tools in museums and their websites.

Google Analytics


Compete (US websites only)


– statistics on your website and how users interact with it

ClickDensity – heat maps of what users look at on your website

Google Trends – realtime search of ‘trends’ (i.e. keywords) referenced online

DomainTools – domain registration/look-up portal

FeedBurner – tool to manage and track multiple blogs

Flickr – online photo sharing site

StumbleUpon – sharing tool to recommend websites or particular pages to others (similar to Digg, Reddit, etc.)

Reddit – sharing tool (as above)

HowSociable? – tool to measure brand visibility in social media, i.e. how often your organisation is referenced in  Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Technorati, etc.

Twitter – similar to sending and receiving mass text messages.  Easier to show than tell.

WorldInternetProject – analysis and comment on global internet trends

NING/Museums 3.0 – blog ring for museums

1stfans @ Brooklyn Museum – online membership of Twitterers and bloggers with an interest in the Brooklyn Museum

Social media links from 5 Feb event, Melbourne

As a quick follow-up to last night’s Vic event on Web 2.0, science communicators and museums, I’ve put together a quick list of some of the social media/news references made during the discussion:

Transformations in Scientific & Cultural Communication conference details:

The 2008 version of the Transformations… event

Angelina Russo & Jerry Watkins’ home pages at Swinburne

Niall Byrne’s details

Museums Australia (Victoria)


Colossal squid defrosted

Giant squid dissection

CSIRO Publishing

Einstein A Go Go

Melbourne Writers Festival

Eureka Prizes

Flickr groups


British wildlife surveys (public engagement)

An unsuccessful albatross tracking project (NB: not the one Niall referred to)

ICOM definition of a Museum


‘Peter Mac’ (Peter MacCullum Cancer Centre)