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MSDI Champions Greater Engagement at Science Communicators Conference


Monash Sustainable Development Institute Lecturer David Robertson facilitated a number of workshops at the Australian Science Communicators Tenth National Conference in November.

Held in Sydney from November 11 to 15, the conference is the premier networking, professional development and interactive event for professionals committed to making science, technology and innovation accessible.

David is an esteemed science communicator and sustainable development educator with a strong focus on participatory learning and currently teaches into Monash’s Master of Environment and Sustainability – a multidisciplinary course that harnesses the expertise of MSDI and Monash Arts, Science and School of Business.

David facilitated three workshops throughout the week-long conference, including a provoking session called ‘Beyond Panels: Better Events for Controversial Science.

In the session, David argued that while panel discussions are currently the go-to format for science events, especially on controversial topics, they are structurally flawed and rarely achieve depth of dialogue, true audience input, or change hearts and minds.

He argued that many alternative formats exist and used the session to facilitate two micro-events, which highlighted some more interactive approaches, giving participants some practical tools they could use right away.

David also facilitated the ‘Impact and Engagement: What can Australia and the UK Learn from Each Other’ workshop, alongside Monash colleagues Lizzie Crouch, Senior Coordinator of Engagement at Monash’s SensiLab and Djuke Veldhuis, Course Director, Global Challenges.

In another interactive workshop – ‘Permission to be Bold: Art-Science Engagement – David and Lizzie explored how art-science collaborations can offer a different way to engage audiences with science and technology research.