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

Nancy Longnecker nancy.longnecker at uwa.edu.au
Wed May 4 23:23:21 UTC 2011

Hello Bobby,

You are right. It is difficult to quantify excellence in such a diverse field. I have been on the judging panel for the WA Science Outreach award for five years. Many inspiring individuals and organisations have been nominated and their activities have been across the spectrum.

The judging criteria for this award have been improved considerably over that time. It may be worthwhile asking the WA Department of Commerce if they are willing to share the criteria that have been developed. No point in starting from scratch when considerable thought and effort has already been done.

Cheers, Nancy

Assoc Prof Nancy Longnecker

Coordinator, Science Communication Program
Faculty of Life and Physical Sciences, M011
The University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, WA   6009

ph: 61 8 6488 3926
email: nancy.longnecker at uwa.edu.au   NOTE: longneck at cyllene.uwa.edu.au is no longer a valid email address. Please delete it from your contact list.
skype: nancylongnecker

There is no point explaining everything in the universe if no one is listening to you.    (UWA Sci Comm student)

From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Bobby Cerini [bobby.cerini at anu.edu.au]
Sent: Wednesday, 4 May 2011 2:05 PM
To: list at asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Promoting prizes related to communication of science

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 don’t 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
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Email: bobby.cerini at anu.edu.au
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