[ASC-list] Promoting prizes related to communication of science

Bobby Cerini bobby.cerini at anu.edu.au
Wed May 4 06:05:25 UTC 2011

I should clarify that my first comments were meant particularly in reference
to those of us who are professional science communicators, who are paid to
do a good job and who also have the resources and remit to achieve that. I
certainly did not mean to imply that all science communicators are in the
same boat or that volunteers don¹t deserve recognition ­ they do, and much
that is great in science communication in this country has been achieved
through their input and sheer hard work.

But, as a volunteer member of National Science Week and ASC committees past,
I would also observe that there are degrees of contribution; some more
run-of-the-mill than others. Many volunteer activities are still organised
and funded centrally, and the benefits to the individual are often quite
tangible ­ valuable experience/networking/opportunities/influence, enhanced
reputation and excellent seats at Science Week events can all be good
incentives. On the same note, sometimes paid, professionally developed
programs are just so good that they deserve to be singled out; stakeholders
(of many different sorts) acknowledging what has been achieved is I think
entirely appropriate.

Of course awards are always subjective; we can turn to our stakeholders and
ask them what stands out and is worthy of award, in order to gauge which
work is better, more promising, more valuable or more significant. But in an
industry that is so diverse, we are unlikely to get consistent answers!
Individually we represent so many different professions: writers,
performers, educators, researchers, artists, project managers, broadcasters,
designers, presenters, policy makers, administrators and many combinations
of the above. Our outputs, impacts and quality benchmarks (not to mention
our stakeholders) vary enormously.

Perhaps despite this complexity we should start by trying to document our
criteria for excellence, in terms of science communicators doing a job that
is particularly worthy of accolade. I think until we set clear benchmarks in
all of our communities of practice, it will be continue to be difficult to
celebrate and acknowledge when these are surpassed.

Bobby Cerini
PhD Candidate & Consultant in Science Communication

The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS)
A Centre for the National Commission of UNESCO

The Australian National University
Building 38A ­ Physics Link
Canberra, ACT 0200 
CRICOS provider 00120C

Email: bobby.cerini at anu.edu.au
Web: http://cpas.anu.edu.au

Australia - 0415 032 701 or (02) 6125 7634
UK landline - 020  3239 2018
USA landline - (202) 657 4036

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