Image credit: Jon Challicom for BP plc
The National Forum for Public Engagement with STEM is convinced that we need to value the knowledge and experiences of the publics we engage with. We have to understand that people think and feel very differently about science and build on that diversity. We also need to recognise that people’s participation in science is affected by lots of social factors.
We want to push ourselves harder to reach beyond the ‘usual suspects’, and to challenge our assumptions about who is interested in science and how they might be engaged with. Individually, Forum members are investing in a host of different projects and approaches to deepen our understanding.
What we have done
- We have reviewed the audiences we are currently reaching and the balance of our investments. We have noted a strong focus on young people, and a significant gap in reaching ‘underserved’ audiences.
- We have reviewed different approaches to reaching ‘underserved’ audiences and identified five different paradigms, to help clarify the assumptions we operate with.
- We have mapped the approaches taken by Forum members to foster diversity and inclusion, in order to identify key gaps and challenges that need to be addressed collectively.
- We have conducted a survey of those working in public engagement with STEM to better understand the diversity and inclusion issues pertaining to our workforce and activities.
- We have chosen to adopt the idea of ‘science capital’ to inform our collective work. We believe that this provides a very productive platform to think differently and more profoundly about the factors which affect people’s engagement with science.
- Forum members are working to improve our knowledge about how to measure science capital and embed monitoring approaches within activities. We’re interested in using Science Capital as a lens to identify areas in the UK where there is high and low science capital, and appropriately work with these areas.
- We are also exploring new kinds of partnership to help us reach communities with whom we traditionally struggle to engage. We are in early discussions about adopting place-based approaches to bring about significant and sustainable change.
How you can get involved
If you would like to get involved in the work of the Forum, please get in touch with the Forum secretariat: email@example.com
- The British Science Association are working to a new business plan, based on a bold and exciting new goal: to transform the relationship that 4 million people have with science by 2020. Their mission is to regenerate the diversity and inclusivity of science; to reach under-served audiences; and to increase the percentage of the UK population who are actively engaged and involved in science.
- Royal Academy of Engineering: all projects funded through the Ingenious grant scheme have been asked, for the first time, to track their reach to under served audiences. The Academy has also conducted qualitative research among young people, parents and teachers to understand in more depth their perception of engineering, to inform a new perception change campaign.
- Royal Society: The Royal Society is committed to actions when it comes to tackling diversity and, at the recommendation of its Diversity Committee, has put in place measures to tackle unconscious bias.
- Science Museum Group: Have launched a blog called ’transforming practice’ which shares experiences and resources associated with embedding science capital.