The 2017 Science Communication course is almost upon us. This is the sixth year that the course has been offered in the final year Biochemistry and Biology degree programmes and a lot seems to have changed since it started back in 2011-12.
We will try to pick up on some of those changes during the course. Many of you will have noticed the dramatic political changes in the UK and the US over the past year, following the EU referendum and the election of Donald Trump as President. Do those changes affect the ways that the research community should interact with the rest of society?
Many people would say yes. Around the world, scientists are gearing up for the March for Science. But what is that march for? In the Guardian Roger Pielke wonders it it is too blunt a response to the threat posed by the Trump administration.
In the Times Higher Education magazine, Jonathan Grant highlights many of the other changes affecting the UK higher education and research landscape:
UK science policy is going through a once-in-a-generation transition. The implementation of the Nurse review of research councils, the formation of UK Research and Innovation and the Global Challenges Research Fund, the Stern review of the research excellence framework and subsequent consultations, the Higher Education and Research Bill and the recently announced Industrial Strategy – all are occurring just as the impacts of Brexit on the research base dominate much debate and discussion.
Many of those changes are complex and unlikely to be of much immediate interest to the general public. How many of them had you heard of? Grant argues that the correct response from the scientific community would be to “learn to listen to what society wants from research”.
It is important to remember that communication is a two-way activity.