Posts

Reflections on 'The Art of Gathering' for those in Public Engagement

I've just finished reading 'The Art of Gathering' by Pryia Parker. It's a must read for anyone who is interested in gathering people together - for work and for social. The book made me think in lots of ways about how I gather people in my life (something I love to do) but here I am going to reflect on how it might reinvigorate some of the ways in which I approach public engagement activities and gatherings.

The book isn't about public engagement, it's about gathering as a general topic but the ideas can be applied to any gathering. Not all of the thoughts in the book were completely new to me but these are the ones that I thought were of particular importance for everyone involved in creating engagement experiences that bring together the public and research.

I've got to extend a massive thank you to Lou Woodley for the recommendation to read the book.

The book is set out over eight chapters, which logically follow the path you take when planning a gather…

A big list of ways people communicate science to public audiences

Image
I have promised myself that this year I will be better at sharing information, documents and general things that I have created for training, conference sessions or just for fun.To start 2018, here is a list of different formats in which people communicate science through events. I used it for a discussion with Masters students about the many different forms science communication can take. The list started life as a local one but I am keen to include more international examples. I have included links where appropriate so people can find out more information. Have I missed any? I expect I have...
Talks, comedy and storytelling  Lectures - still an important way of communicating science Café Scientifique (and Café MED, if you are in Aberdeen)Bright Club comedy The Cabaret of Dangerous IdeasNerd NiteSkeptics in the PubSci-barPint of ScienceSoapbox scienceSpeed scienceThe Story Collider – science storytelling (and there is a great podcast)PechaKucha Night (not science based, but is a grea…

Connecting scientists and the public in online dialogues about science

Image
My Churchill Trust Travel Fellowship Report, Connecting scientists and the public in online dialogues about science has now been published.

Social media offers much promise for the engagement of new global audiences. This report summarises my journey to the USA, Canada, China and Japan and includes useful observations, tips and case studies for those looking to connect the public with science via online platforms. In theory, social media has the potential to break down barriers and open channels of communication between people of every background and profession on a global scale. Online networks also have a huge potential to democratise many areas, especially academic scientific research. It can allow the public access behind previously closed doors and into restricted spaces through the use of video and images. Importantly, it offers and the opportunity for two-way conversations with global audiences no matter where the research is being conducted.

I travelled to the USA, Canada, Ch…

Are doctoral candidates switched on to the impact of social media?

Image
Early in 2015 I conducted a bit of research about social media use at my institution (the University of Aberdeen). It was presented at the UK Council for Graduate Education, 2nd International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education & Training Conference in 2015.

I wrote up the findings and they were recently published in the proceedings. There are interesting papers covering all different areas of graduate training. The abstract for my paper is below and you can download the proceedings (my paper is on page 93).




Are doctoral candidates switched on to the impact of social media? 

Dr Heather Doran* and Dr Kenneth D. Skeldon *Corresponding author, University of Aberdeen, King’s College, Regent Walk, Old Aberdeen, AB24 3FX

Abstract
It might be assumed that today’s doctoral students are aware of and active in the use of social media tools in the course of their work. Here we question whether doctoral students are really utilising these tools to effectively and responsibly stren…

No-one to book that trip with? Do it anyway. Traveling alone as a female is OK

Image
Last year I was lucky enough to start a journey of exploration around the world funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. It was an incredible experience but also a little daunting, as I would be doing it alone. I’m writing this about my experiences to encourage others to take the plunge and book that trip you have always wanted to take. Traveling has been a favourite way of spending my time for as long as I can remember. It isn’t just about the destination for me: the journey to get there is just as important. I love the space you get from reality as you embark on a journey. I don’t love everything though. I hate flying, but I didn’t want to let that stop me. If I had a choice, the train would always be the top of my list of transport options. Staring out of the window of a train has been the location where I have decided on many things in my life. Traveling alone can be a daunting experience but I really urge everyone to try it. Even if it is a train journey to a new town. You…

My 2015 Reading List

As many people are looking for presents at this time of year I thought I would round up some of my favourite books that I read in 2015 (along with a few other favourites).

My plan was to write full reviews of all of these books but somehow it is the end of the year and I never quite managed it. This year has gone by so quickly.

If you have any suggestions of your own please add them below. I am looking for a few new reads over the holidays

So You've been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson
I really enjoyed this book and the follow ups Jon has done with people who have become well known for all the wrong reasons due to exploits, mishaps and misinterpretations on social media. It starts to think about how and why people behave like they do online and it could go into a little more depth but is a great read to make you think about how mob mentality, anonymity and online behaviour in general can be a powerful tool but also a dangerous force.
How to Thrive in the Digital Age, Nick Harkaway 
A g…

PechaKucha, Androids and Line: Science Communication in Japan

Image
The last week of my Churchill Fellowship was spent in Tokyo, Japan. I learnt an immense amount about Japan, it's attitudes to science, engagement initiatives and its use of social media ... did you know Japan has a social network called Line? No, me neither... My short trip also included a PechaKucha presentation, a debate about whether we could love robots and a meeting with the ultimate in robots, ASIMO.

Tokyo was incredible. I completely fell in love with its chaos, speed and the people.

During my week I went along to the PechaKucha nights and spoke about my Fellowship and my journey in science communication. You can watch it below. If you don't know what PechaKucha is, you have 20 images and 20 seconds to talk about each one. It's a challenge but great fun.



The night was really enjoyable and there was about 250 people there. I really enjoy running the PechaKucha nights in Aberdeen so it was fantastic to meet with the founders and organisers of the nights. It's ama…