Evolving Science Communication Symposium: learn, adapt, collaborate

Project aims:

The symposium was designed for professionals in the field, specifically aiming to provide a platform for discussion between experts in both the practitioner and academic communities.


To provide a platform for discussion between experts in both the practitioner and academic communities.

Summary of activity:

In March 2009 the Science Communication Unit (SCU) at the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE) hosted a symposium to investigate key issues around transferability and sustainability in science communication and public engagement.

Evaluation approach:

A short questionnaire was distributed to all delegates and speakers attending the conference via the online resource Survey Monkey. The questionnaire was distributed electronically on the afternoon of the second day of the symposium with a reminder sent 10 days later. The questionnaire included both closed and open questions on a range of key areas such as delegate background, symposium content, organisation and preferences for future events.

What went well:

1. The symposium was designed for professionals in the field and was successful in reaching a majority of delegates with at least five years science communication experience.

2. Delegates were supportive and appreciative of the opportunities for discussion, both formally within sessions and informally during breaks

3. The level of content was judged to be appropriate for professional science communicators, and a number of subject areas and discussion topics have been identified for a symposium of this type in future.

Overall, there was a good level of relevance and enjoyment around sessions and speakers on the key symposium themes of transferability, collaboration and sustainability.

What was learned:

1. Future similar symposiums should be mindful to market and recruit to delegates carefully. Ten delegates had less than four years experience and in some comments there was a sense that their expectations of such an event may not have been met.

2. The speaker and delegate list for future symposiums could represent a greater diversity of fields, both to encourage more shared learning and to avoid discussions or sessions returning to similar subjects.

3. There is strong support within the professional science communication community for a similar event to occur in future.

Top tips and advice for others

Based on the successes and challenges identified within the 2009 Evolving Science Communication Symposium the following recommendations have been identified for future similar events:

1. Market and recruit delegates with an appropriate level of science communication experience

2. Speakers and delegates to future symposiums should represent a greater diversity of fields

3. Future symposiums should be reactive to the current suggestions and concerns of the science communication community in terms of content

4. The overall success of the event and positive reception of the community warrants additional symposia in the future

About this project


Project type:

Started (approximately):

Ended: (approximately)

Sept 2009

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