Science Communities - Call for Participants

Posted on 28 May 2021

Science Communities - Call for Participants

poster

Who is Midlands Science?
Midlands Science is a not-for-profit company which works to create greater interest in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths] education and skills among students, teachers and members of the public in the Midlands [Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath].

What is Science Communities about?
Science Communities is an exciting new project to build dialogue and discussion between community groups in the midlands and those involved in science and public policy. The experience of the last year has shown us how science and science-based decision making has an effect on all of our lives. Through multiple community forums, we want to create an open dialogue about the science behind these decisions, how the scientific evidence informs public health advice and how this information is communicated to the general public.

We want to see where there could be misinformation and resistance among the general public and use this as an opportunity for people to become more informed about science and to build a greater trust in science. We will be encouraging open debate, dialogue and effective conversation between members of the public, experts from the fields of science and health care and the policy/decision makers in our society. These forums will look at the topics of scientific evidence and how it is used, the science of food and alcohol, viruses, vaccines, medicine and health. We are keen to facilitate these discussions and to be as inclusive as possible, we will be aiming to have a broad range of people from across the Midlands taking part in these forums. As an additional support, all participants will be offered free training in LIFT facilitation skills. LIFT is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to increase the level of positive leadership in Ireland.

We hope that these discussions will help members of the public feel more connected with science and help them to understand the reasoning behind the science-based decision making. It will also be a chance for the decision makers, the policy makers and scientific experts to hear the questions and concerns that the general public have. This open two-way conversation should lead to more effective communication in the future.

When and where will these forums take place?
This project will consist of four public engagement forums and one LIFT training day. Given the current restrictions in place nationwide the public engagement forums and training day will take place online. The project will run from July – November 2021. There will be one forum held per month, with the LIFT training day happening in late July. The forums will run for no more than 3 hours each (event time to be confirmed).

  • LIFT Facilitation Training (One day training, 9:30am–4pm, w/c July 19)
  • Forum 1 (Aug 19th) Show me the Evidence - Exploring Science & Scientific Evidence
  • Forum 2 (Sept 22nd) Sugar, Spice & everything Science - The Science of Food & Alcohol
  • Forum 3 (Oct 20th) Viruses, Vaccines and Immunity - The Science of Diseases
  • Forum 4 (Nov 24th) Medicine and Health - Who and how we can trust?

Who are we looking for?
We are looking for people from the midlands who would be interested in engaging with this project, facilitating discussions and taking in part in open dialogue with others around the topics of medicines, health, food, pandemics, science-based decision making, communication and misinformation.
Participants do not have to have any prior knowledge of science, or any interaction with STEM in their everyday lives. We are looking for a broad range of people from the midlands to take part in these forums. We are particularly interested in engaging people who would not usually interact with science or STEM in their everyday lives.

If you are interested in taking part in this project, please email outreach@midlandsscience.ie

What is required of a participant?
As a participant you will be invited to attend four public engagement forums. This is a unique chance for you to have your views heard and to take part in discussions around science, health and public decision making. There will be four forums happening throughout the months of August, September, October and November. We will be inviting all participants to attend all four forums. We understand that not everyone will be able to commit to all four events, so participants are more than welcome to attend just one or two forums. The event is completely free. Along with the public forums, we will be providing all participants with free LIFT facilitation training (one day training) in late July. LIFT Ireland is a not-for-profit initiative aimed at increasing the level of positive leadership in Ireland.

We will also be asking participants to take part in a survey at the beginning and end of the project. This will be crucial to reviewing the overall success/outcomes of the project. We may also ask a small number of participants to take part in interviews/videos for the project, however this is optional.

What do we hope to get out of this project?
We hope that at each of these forums, the participants and the science and health experts can all partake in open debate/dialogue. We hope that these forums will help build trust between the community and the decision makers while also allowing the government/policy makers to hear the concerns and issues that the public have. We hope that these discussions will lead to better communications from government in the future but also that the members of the community will feel more connected to science and the decisions being made and have more trust in them.

What will you get out of this project?
We hope that this project will give you the chance to have your say, voice your opinions and have your questions answered. It will give you the opportunity to learn more about how public health decisions are made in this country and how these decisions are communicated to you. The forums should help build trust between members of the community and the science experts/government.

The free LIFT training that we are providing to all participants should benefit you, not only during the forums, but also in your everyday life, at work, at home, in the community. LIFT Ireland is a not-for-profit initiative aimed at increasing the level of positive leadership in Ireland. Leadership is not limited to a select few and everyone can be a leader in their own way.

Science Communities is funded by Science Foundation Ireland under the Discover ProgrammeThis project, which is an SFI Discover Project, aims to create dialogue and discussion between members of the community in the midlands and those involved in science and public policy. We will have Professor Luke O’Neill from Trinity College Dublin and Professor Ciaran O'Boyle (RCSI) alongside other experts from UCD, RCSI and more attending these events.

We are looking for members of the public to get involved. You do not need to have a science background or have any interaction with STEM in your day-to-day life to take part. We are looking for a broad range of people from across the midlands, we are particularly interested in engaging people who would not usually interact with science or STEM in their everyday lives. The participants in this project will be invited to attend four public forums (online). These forums will run during August, September, October and November (one per month) and will cover a range of topics such as: understanding science and evidence, food and alcohol, health, medicines, viruses and vaccines.

Participants will also be offered the chance to attend a LIFT facilitation training day free of change. LIFT is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to increase the level of positive leadership in Ireland. This facilitation training should be beneficial to participants, not just during the actual forum, but also in their everyday lives.