Monday 24 May
Realising science in society visions
Registration and refreshments
10.00 Welcome by The Royal Society
10.05 Opening remarks
Chair: Professor Kathy Sykes, Collier Professor in the Public Engagement of Science and Engineering, University of Bristol
Keynote address: Lord Whitty of Camberwell, Minister for Farming, Food and Sustainable Energy, Defra
Science in Society: its key role in maintaining the UK’s position at the forefront of international science and technology.
Science is transforming our lives and helping to create growth, prosperity and opportunities for us all. But while it offers huge benefits, science also carries potential risks. Developing science in a way that takes better account of society’s concerns and values whilst still offering up these huge benefits, will be the key to the future success of not just science, but the economy in the UK in the 21st Century. Lord Whitty will outline the approaches that his department is making to address these issues and will share some of the lessons learned from the recent GM Nation debate.
Session 1a: transforming culture within academia and research institutions
The key issues and challenges facing academia and research institutions: how to facilitate culture change and set the science research agenda whilst considering society’s relationship with science.
Professor Glynis Breakwell, Vice Chancellor, University of Bath
Universities can do more to improve communication about science
Professor John Lawton, Chief Executive, Natural Environment Research Council
Communication culture in the Research Councils
Session 1b: transforming culture within industry
This session will identify some of the key respects in which science in society issues are business critical and what steps are being taken by industry to address them.
Sir John Egan, President, Confederation of British Industry
Responsible wealth creation
John Randle, Director of Corporate Services, BASF
Communication and engagement in a science based industry
Session 2: parallel workshops
Reflecting on the discussion so far five parallel workshops will address the question of how to facilitate culture change within the different sectors, including ways of reaching socially excluded audiences. Each group will be asked to produce a list of outputs to promote active change. The five sectors are academia, NGOs, industry, government, media.
Workshop 1 - An NGO perspective
Charlie Kronick, Chief Policy Advisor, Greenpeace
What role can NGOs have in assisting the promotion of greater openness and public discussion about choices presented by scientific developments and encourage policy makers to acknowledge public views and values?
Greenpeace, participation and legitimacy
Charlie will outline a recent initiative involving Greenpeace. Greenpeace campaigns to transform society onto a more environmentally sustainable path. It's work confronts industry, science and politics to protect natural systems in the developed and developing worlds.
Greenpeace is known for hard-hitting interventions—whether non-violent direct actions, political work or the promotion of alternative industrial or technical innovations such as renewable energy. It is not known for promoting “democracy” or for canvassing the “public”. Yet in Greenpeace—along with Unilever, the Consumers Association and the Co-op—convened a citizen’s jury to look at the politics, social impact and science of GM crops. What led to this apparent change?
Workshop 2 - Industry Engagement with Stakeholders
John Turner, Corporate Responsibility Manager, BNFL
John will begin the workshop by presenting the BNFL’s National Stakeholder Dialogue process. This workshop will address how industry can actively promote the science in society agenda.
The BNFL National Stakeholder Dialogue was set up in to try to change the way that BNFL engaged with stakeholders who had issues and concerns with their operations. The aim of the dialogue is to inform BNFL's decision making on how to improve environmental performance but it has actually covered much more than purely environmental issues. Since starting, it has involved over 200 stakeholders and the process is independently managed and facilitated by The Environment Council. The output of the National Stakeholder Dialogue is treated seriously by the company with Directors taking personal responsibility for the recommendations and regular reports on progress being given to the stakeholders.
Workshop 3 - Academia and research institutions
Zoe Dunford, Media Manager, Institute of Food research
Professor Harold Thimbleby, Director UCLIC, UCL
The workshop will begin with two presentations that suggest ways in which academia can facilitate the promotion of science in society.
Insular scientists: is it their fault?
Zoe will address the lack of recognition scientists receive if involved in science communication and asks if this is a result of peer pressure that is an ingrained part of the culture of science. Recently Dr Keith Waldron, an Institute of Food Research scientist, subjected UK scientific institutions to more rigorous scrutiny and identified the “performance indicators” used in the appraisal of public sector science. His findings show that the majority of performance indicators are only relevant to the interests of the scientific community. He suggests an integration of business management skills into scientific organisations might encourage the adoption of science communication activities.
Communicating science honestly
Harold is inspired by Richard Feynman's famous criticism of Cargo Cult Science. Scientists must have the special sort of integrity that they can show how they could be wrong, and are open to all possibilities. Importantly, openness is not just for the benefit of the scientific community but also for communicating clearly to members of the general public.
Workshop 4 - Influencing government
Dr Gail Cardew, Head of Programmes, The Royal Institution
Dr Melanie Quin, Executive Director, ESCITE-UK
Dr Kathy Sykes, Director, Cheltenham Science Festival
Dr Fiona Barbagallo, Science in Society Manager, the BA
How can the science communication community be more effective at influencing government? This workshop will identify the challenges we face when aiming to link our events and programmes to government consultations.
To kick start the workshop the collaborators of Small Talk will present their project which aims to provide coherence to a range of nanotechnology activities around the UK. Small Talk is a pilot programme that seeks to determine if the outputs of a range of coordinated events will have more impact than singular events.
The collaborators of Small Talk—ESCITE-UK, the Royal Institution, Cheltenham Science Festival and the BA—hope to work with a range of organisations over the next 2 years. Small Talk received funding from the Copus Grant Scheme.
Workshop 5 - Working with the media
Bob Ward, senior manager for press and public relations, The Royal Society
Rachael Buchanan, science producer BBC news
This workshop will address the question of how science communicators, industry, academia, government and NGOs can improve the ways in which science is communicated to the public through the media.
Why, when and how should scientists communicate with the media?
Bob will highlight The Royal Society's working group that was set up to carry out a study on best practice in communicating the results of new scientific research to the public. The study has been launched in response to general concern expressed among scientists and wider society about when and how research results are made public, and specific controversies surrounding issues such as the extent to which results should be checked by other researchers before they are communicated. The report of the study will be published later this year.
Rachael will provide her perspective of the role of the media, as a science producer with the BBC.
reporting back on workshops
End day 1 – drinks reception to follow
Tuesday 25 May
Learning Lessons – from experience
Registration and refreshments
Welcome by Sir Roland Jackson, Chief Executive, the BA
Chair: Suzi Leather, Chair, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority
Summary and key points to take forward from day 1
Session 3: OST Science in Society Programme
The OST will present an overview of their Science and Society activities and details of the new Public Engagement with Science and Technology programme.
Dr Tony Whitehead, Director of Science and Society, OST
Dr Sarah Macnaughton, Manager of Public Engagement with Science and Technology Programme for OST
Session 4: political realities
Session four will explore the relationship between formal institutional decision making and public participation methods using three case studies: the GM debate, nanotechnology and Radioactive Waste Management.
Professor Judith Petts, University of Birmingham
Making deliberation count in decision-making: lessons from the GM debate
Professor Brian Wynne, Lancaster University
Public dialogues with science: some complications from the case of nanotechnology
Professor Jacquie Burgess UCL
Developing advice for CoRWM
Session 5: real life tales
Speakers will highlight different deliberative approaches that enable non-scientists to express their views and opinions. Specific examples of how to build on opportunities and overcome barriers will be discussed.
Elizabeth Rivers, Independent Facilitator
Bikers vs. Grannies: conflict on the streets of Stratford
Richard Wilson, The Environment Council
Contentious science in the community
Ela Pathak-Sen, Project Manager, NICE Citizens Council
The voice of the citizen
Identifying key strategic issues that have emerged during the conference and agreeing mechanisms to take them forward.
Closing remarks – Sir Roland Jackson, the BA
End day 2