Annual Review 2012-13
When Sir Roland Jackson took up the role of Chief Executive of the British Science Association (then the BA) in 2002, the era of ‘public understanding’ of science was drawing to a close. Indeed Roland took part in the review that led, by the end of that year, to the winding up of the Committee on the Public Understanding of Science. The main body of opinion in the science communication field held that ‘public engagement’ with science, with it’s implications of questioning and debate, was the relationship between scientists and the general public that should now be fostered.
The decade of Roland’s stewardship has seen great changes in which the British Science Association has played a key role. Dialogue and debate are central to all the Association’s public-facing programmes. Every event in the British Science Festival has an element of audience participation. National Science & Engineering Week covers the UK with local events featuring scientists presenting events to vocal audiences of all ages and, at Silver and Gold level in the CREST Awards Scheme, professional scientists from academia and science-based companies mentor the young people undertaking CREST projects. The Science in Society portfolio of programmes includes the excellent media fellowship scheme in which practising scientists are placed with national media organisations for up to eight weeks to learn at first-hand how the media operate and learn communication skills. The Science Communication Conference brings science communication practitioners together each year to discuss best practice in the field.
Today, typing ‘public engagement with science’ into any search engine produces a plethora of results but perhaps the best evidence of progress is that Roland has now moved on to be the Executive Chair of the Sciencewise Expert Resource Centre for Public Dialogue in Science and Innovation. We welcome Imran Khan as the Chief Executive of the Association and look forward with confidence to a new era in its long and distinguished history.
Professor Lord Krebs
President of the British Science Association