Finnish colleagues celebrated the national Independence Day and everyone else St.
Nikolaus Day, I flew to Bruges in Belgium, to attend the CommOcean 2016, the 2nd
International Marine Science Communication Conference.
The CommOCEAN 2016 participants in front of the conference venue, Provincial Court Bruges. Picture: VLIZ (Els Verhaeghe).
Held in the
Provincial Court on the Market Square right in the heart
of medieval Bruges, the
impressive venue arose slight considerations whether it might be appropriate to curtsy before a talk...
to the chair decorations, also a significant number of lions attended the talks, cheering and roaring for each speaker.
An enthusiastic roar was well justified, thinking back to excellent talks and workshops, and overall passionate and motivated participants, discussing how to improve the communication of scientific results, which tools to use and why this is in general important. Picture right: VLIZ (Els Verhaeghe).
So why does
science communication matter? Who should do it? And how?
because our scientific work will likely have only little impact on society and environment,
if we do not tell about it- beyond the academic circles. This is particularly
important in environmental sciences like ocean sciences, where our work
is tightly linked to the effects of anthropogenic impacts such as climate
change, eutrophication, acidification, over fishing. Explaining our aims and
efforts to non-academics might lead to understanding, awareness and in the best
case a change of behaviour towards the environment.
These communication efforts
should not be seen disentangled from our pure scientific work as something that
hopefully the public relations office can deal with, because there´s lab work
to be done and a cruise to be prepared…
contrary, tell about your cruise preparation: what will you be doing, why the
Arctic…and why in winter?! You can twitter, blog, produce videos, involve
school children and have skype class room talks - there is a platform for
everyone and equipment for everyone. It is totally fine to make a video with
your mobile phone (Lisa D. Tossey: “Using the technology in your pocket for
science storytelling in the digital age”). The main point is to get involved
and spread your message, which may even increase your citation number (Line Reeh: "Boosting impact and citation- why talking to journalists might actually be a good idea").
Social media platforms (twitter, facebook, instagram) and the visual aspect (video, photo, picture) are key aspects in modern science outreach. Left: good mood and probably some #CommOCEAN memory pictures. Right: Christopher Malapitan, visualizing the plenary talks. Pictures: VLIZ (Els Verhaeghe).
Some visualized talks of the first day, by Christopher Malapitan.
and supported by BONUS, I had submitted an abstract about my experiences in
running this science blog about the biogeochemistry work of the COCOA project,
and therefore tried to convince the participants of my session “Dealing with
the media” that blogging is a great tool for scientific outreach. Modern, fast,
easy, cheap, visual and with a wide-spreading impact- perfect for getting your
message out in today´s fast-running and internet-oriented world. My proposed
way of catching and keeping the audience: authenticity, collegiality and
parallel session “A blue public- getting the message out to a wide audience” Maija
Sirola from BONUS spoke about the engagement of scientist in communication and
outreach, e.g. also via the BONUS blogs. Pictures below left: me, right: Maija. VLIZ (Els Verhaeghe).
Thanks BONUS for the support, it was an inspiring conference with perfect organization, great people and the best conference bag you could wish for on St. Nikolaus Day!Team BONUS Maija and me happy at CommOCEAN 2016 in Bruges, Belgium.