Bridges of Communication : Bringing Science to the Public

  • Science is all around us but many people choose to ignore it. Creating opinions without any scientific evidence has caused major worldwide problems in the past.
  • Bringing science to the masses will be easier than bringing the masses to science.
  • The stereotypical science lecturer of years gone by has fallen by the wayside. Science is now modern, up-to-date and should be attracting more younger people than it does.

As news about the Paris agreement starts to filter through the system, the controversial stand of a significant portion of the population over climate change becomes clear as do the conflicts of interest that don’t have to exist. Can science help?

When it comes to science,  renewable energy and their economic potential, we are faced more than ever, with the consequences of being scientifically unaware in this era, which is a scandal in its own right. Ignoring science is no longer a luxury we can enjoy, especially if as humans we choose to live in a modern setting, away from wifi-free deserts and unmapped regions. Once a person chooses civilization there is a give and take in technologies and facts’ awareness. Even when people don’t belong to the concrete jungle setting the impact of the decisions will reach the monk and the exiled, fatefully.

Lack of interest in scientific issues

While there are people who entertain the habit of reading or going to museums and staying informed on current scientific issues, it is not the case for the majority of people. More than that, several don’t get or don’t want to access those channels of information. There could be numerous reasons to this isolation but it is undeniable that this is the portion that needs engagement in scientific learning and discussion. But how do you make someone open the discovery, read a peer reviwed paper, watch a documentary or go to a museum? Those tools are free and spread online, worldwide, yet it is no guarantee they will be seeked out, less so by those who either don’t believe in them, or are too lazy to look?

Engagement – bringing science to the public

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni

This question of engaging with those who don’t wish to engage or can’t engage has been brilliantly answered by Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, both by concepts and actions. Instead of bringing the public to science, let’s bring the scientist to the public. Instead of a formal setting of a classroom, a conference or a museum, let’s put humans together and engage in conversations about hobbies that involve our insights and our practices. Two examples can be given for Dr. Nalini Nadkarni’s own ventures to bring her passion for trees to a public that may not be interested in climate change, forest preservation or plants. In locations such as places of worship, demonstrating the intertwining between the themes of faith and trees in the holy scriptures, and in prisons by launching environmental projects and trees’ discovery with inmates put in charge or caring for an endangered species of frog, it is possible to engage the public.

Science, explaining the concept

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, or as nicknamed the Queen of the Forest Canopy, explains the concept with some strong ideas:

  • Before being an engineer or a scientist in any STEM engaged career, busy with your work and publications, you are a human being with hobbies and interests on which you can engage with people who share them.
  • Going to the public doesn’t mean bursting into a cycling club and giving a lecture just because you are part of it, but coming up with an activity, or a modified version of it that involves sharing your insight and getting questions, in other words, engaging in an proactive exchanges.
  • Engaging with the public as yourself rather than through a medium, so as the preconceived ideas about the scientific community get broken: no, not everyone is a grey-haired male with a cold demeneour and an insufferable logic whose cartesian mind is carved in stone. A lot of us are men and women and boys and girls who struggle with spicy food, go for drinks to rant about our bosses or advisors and enjoy a Sunday morning in front of a complete season of a TV series.

Through her program, Dr. Nalini Nadkarni was able to help several scientists bring their persona and work to different communities that wouldn’t have thought about going to a museum or challenging preconceived idea before. Getting rich exchanges and sparking the interest of the public are the main benefits of such endeavors, prompting many to look further, care, invest or at least be open to see things under another perspective. This is a big win on its own.

To check some of the amazing projects conducted in the area of bridging communication in the world of science check out more at stemap.org

About: Khadija Ouajjani

Since 2012. Mechanical Design Engineer in the aeronautics industry. Mainly dealing with CAD, FEA, simulation and analysis for turbo-engines. Writing for EC since 2014. Garlic, Color Pencils, Open Systems, Coffee, Herbert, Final Fantasy VII, Writing, Tolkien, Mechanics, Deutsch, Nihongo, Herbs, Aïkido, Tea, Cinnamon, Motion, Friends.

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