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Public Engagement Scheme Pairs Scientists with Local Communities

Jun 20 2018 Read 98 Times

NERC has joined forces with non-profit organisations the British Science Association (BSA) and FoAM to launch AccessLab - an exciting opportunity for researchers to build new relationships and help those working in their local community to access and use scientific research.

The new scheme, focused on the South West of England will pair researchers with parliamentary, policy and council workers, local media and bloggers and marine industry figures to facilitate conversations about how NERC research can be used by and made accessible for new groups.

Each matched pair will live or work near to each other to build long-lasting relationships, based on personal interaction. This will allow for longer-term engagement within the community, who will make use of research findings, making the research more impactful.

AccessLab workshops will be held:

  • Wednesday 18 July 2018 (Penzance area)
  • Friday 20 July 2018 (Penzance area)
  • Wednesday 15 August 2018 (Exeter area)
  • Friday 17 August 2018 (Exeter area)
  • two further dates to be confirmed.

Alison Robinson, NERC Director of Corporate Affairs, said that helping journalists, councillors and those working in the fishing industry to better use robust information and have a constructive conversation with scientists would “go far beyond simply communicating the importance of environmental science - ultimately bringing NERC research to life within this community."

Ivvet Modinou, Head of Engagement at the British Science Association, said: "As public engagement practitioners, we often build platforms through our events, festivals, workshops and shows that elevate experts purely as purveyors of facts. What would happen if we experimented with changing this power dynamic and tried to focus more on the skills that researchers possess, rather than their knowledge? AccessLab represents an innovation in public engagement and with the support of NERC, we are really excited to see how this new form of engagement will develop. We're excited to work with NERC researchers to explore how different communities understand, communicate and manage their local environments."

Amber Griffiths, Director FoAM Kernow, said:

"Having access to reliable information means that people can make well informed decisions in their lives and work. In the South West there is a divide between those who work in the universities and the broader local communities. Getting people to meet and work together as equals means we can help develop understanding and forge links between those who have information, and those who need access to it."

Non-researchers interested in getting involved in AccessLab can contact FoAM at www.accesslab@fo.am

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