This week I’ve been in Bristol for UWE’s Science Communication Masterclass, and some PhD work too. It’s been an absolute whirlwind of a week (and it’s only Thursday!), so I wanted to write a blog post including my thoughts on the masterclass. Over the next few weeks I plan to do a few more blog posts inspired by the discussions I’ve been a part of over the past 4 days, but for now I just want to reflect on the masterclass in terms of my own experiences and what I plan on doing as a result of the masterclass.
Why did I attend the masterclass?
I’ve said before that I don’t want to make science communication my full time job, but I still booked on to a 4 day masterclass in science communication about 500 miles from my home – why? Honestly, I think that every scientist that enjoys and wants to engage with the public, should be doing some form of science communication. The argument about why all scientists shouldn’t be made to do compulsory science communication is a discussion for another day. I love engaging with the public (all different groups of publics) and communicating my science, so I wanted to develop my skills and learn what I should be doing to convey my science to the best of my ability. Before the masterclass, I was very aware that there was a lot for me to learn about science communication; but I was so clueless that I wasn’t really sure what I needed to learn, just that there were a tonne of topics I knew nothing about. I wanted to use the masterclass as a way to familiarise myself with new concepts, and delve a bit deeper into concepts I already knew a bit about.
Did the masterclass live up to expectations?
Truthfully, it exceeded my expectations. I haven’t been in such a structured learning environment for years, so I was unsure how I’d deal with it, but I loved the fact that I was learning so much every day. Granted, my head feels very full and a bit jumbled at the moment, but I’m really excited to go back through my notes and take a look through the reading list to get all of this new knowledge settled in my head. I expected to learn a lot, but I didn’t expect to come out feeling quite so inspired and energised. I am excited to get back to the office, I’m excited to work on some more blog posts to cover a few of the topics we discussed, and I’m really excited to improve the way that I communicate my research to non-scientists over the coming months.
My first priority is finishing my PhD. I plan to submit at the end of June 2018, so I’ve got until the end of January to finish up my data collection, before I knuckle down and get the thing written. I’m really enjoyed my PhD right now; I feel like I’m in a good place with it, and I’m excited to get writing properly. Along with my PhD though, I really want to continue with the science communication I’ve been doing over the past year or so. First priority is to condense my notes into doodles/blog posts/word documents, mainly so that I don’t end up with a notebook full of scribbles that I don’t understand in a few months! I’m also looking forward to feeding what I’ve learned this week back to the Public Engagement group where I work. Looking slightly longer term, I’d like to work on developing some public engagement activities that link specifically to my own work rather than my field as a whole. I’d like to spread awareness and understanding of clinical trials methodology to audiences that usually wouldn’t encounter the topic – that may be in schools, but could also be in more unique places; busking in the street, in care homes, offices, prisons.. the potential is huge. I feel really passionate about the science that I do, and I’m keen to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with people who might not be attendees at University festivals etc which is where I’ve been involved with events before.
Keep an eye on the blog over the coming weeks – as I said, I’ll be posting about various topics that we covered, and it’d be great to hear other perspectives on the issues we thought about.
A huge thanks to the other delegates on the masterclass, and of course the team at UWE Bristol’s Science Communication Unit, I had a fantastic week and learned so much from all of you!