The British Science Association ran an open call for Inclusive Science Engagement Network membership in late 2019. We are delighted to announce the details of our nine selected network members, from science engagement organisations including museums, universities and learned societies:

BIG STEM Communicators Network
Lead: Helen Featherstone, Chair

BIG STEM Communicators Network is a national membership organisation that supports 400+ individuals involved in public engagement of STEM. BIG runs regular events and training courses to share skills and insights in science communication and informal STEM education, supporting a widespread community of STEM communicators. Their members reach diverse audiences across the country. In the last year, the network has pushed to advocate and improve EDI practices. To date, this has included piloting a Code of Conduct for the BIG Event, their annual science communication conference and opening their bursary scheme as an ‘Access Fund’ to widen the requirements of who can apply for funding to attend their events. BIG is now looking to create a strategic approach towards EDI, both for their members and who their members reach to advocate for change across the sector. They are hoping to learn where they can focus their work and harness the large data set they have on their members.

Science Oxford, The Oxford Trust
Lead: Sophie Batin, Education Outreach Manager

Science Oxford delivers education and engagement programmes across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, reaching 50,000 annually with their team of 18. This includes both outreach programmes across cultural venues, schools, youth clubs and community centres and exhibitions and programmes at the newly opened Science Oxford Centre, aimed at 3-11 year-olds and their ‘key influencers’: families, teachers and community leaders. Their activities reach a number of different adult and audiences, including some with different educational needs. While Science Oxford has a diversity and inclusion policy and has recently undergone unconscious bias training, they recognise that further work needs to be done within the organisation and as part of their programmes. As a growing organisation, Science Oxford sees an opportunity to put in place EDI policies and practices for both recruitment and their growing set of programmes. Their challenges include expanding their audiences and gathering meaningful data from their programmes as they assess this transformation. They would also like to create an organisational structure or process to sustain this change.  

School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee
Lead: Erin Hardee, Public Engagement Manager

The School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee is a leading institution for biological sciences, employing 900 research, postdoctoral and support staff. Their engagement initiatives include supporting their researchers to actively participate in public engagement and working with local communities to widen their research, meet their needs and actively engage them with the school’s work. With EDI work to date including monitoring speakers to maintain gender balance and addressing gaps in their policies such as parental leave, their team is now looking to create, test, and implement a strategic approach to address EDI internally and externally, including questioning what is currently considered best practice by Higher Education. They see opportunities and challenges in encouraging men in the School to participate in public engagement and reaching the diverse audiences of their city, including those with educational needs, older communities as well as girls who have started STEM streams but may not continue down them.

Colchester & Ipswich Museums Service
Lead: Kathryn Riddington, Collections and Learning Curator

Colchester and Ipswich Museums Service (CIMS) formed in 2007 when Colchester and Ipswich borough councils merged their museums service. In 2018 CIMS became an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. CIMS is made up over 70 staff members and six sites, three each in Colchester and Ipswich. Their museums aim to inspire creativity and learning with local, regional and national audiences. The Ipswich museums currently have three school sessions on science and a temporary exhibition; they are now looking to further embed science in their activities. Their exhibitions and activities aim to represent all their local communities, and they currently have three focus groups: disability access, communities and families. Their EDI initiatives have included relaxed openings for people with autism or additional sensory requirements, and they are currently working on a new exhibition to represent all local groups. CIMS has identified there are groups they haven’t met yet and further change is required to make their exhibitions accessible to all. They see sustaining this work and their relationships with community groups requires a strategic plan.

The Geological Society of London
Lead: George Jameson, D&I Project Lead

The Geological Society of London is the oldest national geological society in the world with over 12,500 fellows. The Society is a not-for-profit organisation and a registered charity with 58 members of staff. They strive to promote geoscience education and share their science widely, helping to inform public debate and to inspire the next generation of Earth scientists. Diversity and inclusion are embedded in their new 10-year strategy for staff and their Fellowship. The Society recognises fewer students are becoming members and their Fellow is ageing and predominantly men. With a goal of making this science and profession open to all, their 10-year D&I strategy has so far included forming a Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group. Through this, they developed a Diversity and Inclusion Progression Framework which they are using across their departments to advance D&I. They are also working with the Social Mobility Foundation, are involved in the IAPPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM  and are setting up a geology charity for EDI issues. To address the issue that their field is seen as inaccessible, the Society sees they must improve their social mobility and widening participation and are now collecting data across their events and conferences.

National Coal Mining Museum
Leads: Amy Boothroyd and Sharon Healy, Learning Coordinators

The National Coal Mining Museum for England keeps the stories of coal mining alive by creating enjoyable and inspiring ways to learn for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities and by collecting and preserving the industry’s rich heritage. They have over 100 staff and 50 volunteers with a focus to connect people to their heritage and to demonstrate the importance of the mining industry to England. They are particularly looking to work with families, people from disadvantaged backgrounds and people from working-class backgrounds to share their heritage. While the Museum is currently working on expanding their STEM programmes, they see this Network as an opportunity to learn and share as they grow with inclusivity built in from the start. They are working with Yorkshire Accessible Museum Network to train their staff, and they are developing a volunteer programme with embedded inclusivity training for their growing set of programmes. With this growth, they would like to track and evaluate their progress and are looking for good methods to achieve this, improving visitor experience and training needs.   

UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC)
Leads: Sharon Leverment, Deputy CEO

The UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) brings together over 60 of the UK's major science engagement organisations in the UK. They work across different ages, genders, backgrounds and abilities, and together their members engage over 20 million people each year. ASDC runs national strategic STEM programmes across their network that both engage the public and advance the sector. The team works with funders, scientists and engineers, policymakers, educators and other expert partners. EDI is embedded in the policies, recruitment procedures, code of conduct and within the ethical conduct of the ADSC’s training and evaluation processes. As a priority, they are working towards organisation-wide change and resilience of the EDI agenda for lasting and embedded change for the sector. They are currently working on a change programme, Explore Your Universe Phase 4, which aims to support confidence and curiosity in the physical sciences for those who do not currently go to science centres. Shaaron is involved in many other activities, including the British Association of Planetaria network and as a core advocate of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion group of Ecsite, leading the development of a framework to support science and discovery centres create and sustain relationships with their communities, promote diversity within practitioners, and evaluate and improve upon practices along this journey.   

Marine Biological Association
Lead: Eliane Bastos, Membership and Education/Outreach Officer

The MBA is a Learned Society and charity, with around 100 staff in Plymouth and a global network of thousands of members and volunteers, with a core aim to promote the investigation, and to disseminate knowledge, of the seas and marine life. As a Royal Chartered organisation, they work on behalf of the marine biological community to encourage sustainable use of the marine environment and support conservation. The MBA recognises that their current EDI policy needs updating; it is not bringing about the changes they want both internally and externally, in their staff, volunteers and the audiences they meet. They see that they keep reaching the same audiences and need to make more programmes inclusive. They are looking forward to working with others to see what they can do differently, how to sustain good work and ultimately to share this knowledge with their community.

Francis Crick Institute
Lead: Rosie Waldron, Head of Public Engagement

The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding the biology underlying health and disease. The Crick is a charity with Cancer Research UK, Wellcome and the Medical Research Council as their major funders. Based near St Pancras, London, they house around 100 labs and a public gallery where they offer a free programme of exhibitions and events that engage the public with their research. EDI is embedded within the Crick with specific policies on Equal Opportunities, Diversity, and Dignity at Work, as well as an EDI committee, training opportunities and staff-led diversity networks. The Crick has a new public engagement initiative to diversify their audiences and meet their local community in St Pancras. The Crick has identified areas they would like to improve such as the underrepresentation of male researchers in public engagement, the accessibility of their gallery and recruitment practices. With an organisation-wide drive for EDI, the Crick wants to make their work cohesive, strategic and accessible. They know what is common practice, but the Crick is open to learning what is good practice. 

For further information 

If you would like to find out more about our Inclusive Science Engagement Network or share your insights, please get in touch with Clio Heslop: [email protected]