Thank you to the World Economic Forum (WEF) for having taken up our idea and hosted a fantastic science communication workshop for the Young Scientists in London last week! I like to also introduce the WEF’s Young Scientists (YS) community briefly and my experiences being one!
Who are we, the WEF’s Young Scientists?
We are a fairly new and young community in WEF, with the first cohort attending the WEF Summer Davos in China beginning in 2014. Here’s an excerpt from WEF on who we are:
The Young Scientists community brings together the most forward-thinking and advanced young scientific minds in the world. They are selected from all regions and a wide range of disciplines, and have a track record of advancing the frontiers of science, technology and environment in areas of high societal impact. In their work, they exhibit exceptional creativity, thought leadership and high growth potential. Under the age of 40, these individuals have demonstrated their commitment to public service and actively play a transformational role in integrating scientific knowledge into society for the public good.
I was very fortunate to have been nominated by NUS in 2016 and joined this community of excellent and talented scientists. It gave me the opportunity to meet and speak to really important people working in governments, agencies, private organisations. I am also glad to have been able to contribute my knowledge for WEF – hosted an Innovator Hub session in 2016 and spoke at the Global Situation Space: The Big Picture on Oceans in 2017.
At the same time, given that many of my scientific peers in this group are very advanced in their careers (Assistant Professors, Associate Professors, etc…), I feel tiny at times. But we found common grounds. I really liked that we share similar concerns on issues such as the importance of communicating our work to the public, developing a set of ethics that scientists could follow, and leadership and mentorship in our work spaces.
During the big conferences in China, we tend to only meet once in the morning and later head off to either speak at sessions or network. Through this first YS workshop, I definitely got to know my YS peers much better over the past 2.5 days as we got to interact and work in groups. I even met the previous YS attendees from 2014!
WEF YS Science Communication Workshop (31 Aug – 2 Sep 2017)
As a community in 2016, our group initiated the desire to have a workshop on science communication. After a year long of planning, the supporting team at WEF YS had made it happened for us! So here are some of the highlights and topics discussed over the 2.5 days of workshop.
- We had the pleasure and honour to have Gareth Mitchell, currently a lecturer for the MSc in Science Communication at the Imperial College London and BBC Broadcaster (BBC Inside Science), coaching us! 😀
- Seminar 1: WHAT is the message? (you want to convey from your research)
- Seminar 2: HOW to communicate the message?
- Seminar 3: Planning a public engagement event – meeting your audience (MASLOW‘s Hierarchy of Needs)
- Seminar 4: Facing the media
- Workshop 1: Social Media and Digital Media (facing the cameras!)
- Workshop 2: Radio Interviews and Podcasts (facing the microphones!)
- Workshop 3: Art exhibitions infused with science (Wellcome Collection)
- Evening discussions with The Royal Society of London on what’s next for science communication
I may already be practising science communication back at home, but the workshop has helped me understand what I have been trying to achieve over the past few years. There were many great pointers such as MASLOW’s hierarchy of needs on preparing and organising workshops and seminars. I learnt how to be more effective and efficient in carrying out public engagement in science. Now it’s time to put them into practice! 😀
I also like to thank the following people at the World Economic Forum, who has helped and supported me (and my fellow YS!) in our ideas: David Gleicher, Sandrine Raher, Alice Hazelton, Martha Chahary, Teresa Hartmann!