[ASC-list] Past, present and future of ASC

Mobile Science Education info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au
Wed Nov 20 03:04:45 UTC 2013

I'd agree that any formal segmentation of ASC would be a bad idea - we're
small enough, why get smaller?


At the same time I think interest groups that emerge from the grass roots of
the organisation would be healthy. This kind of thing can happen without
splintering the organisation as a whole, and an online forum (with
member-started discussion threads, etc) could possibly facilitate this
better than an email list (and best of all, are available for free!). 


Thoughts from anyone?


Lee Harrison

Mobile Science Education


0430 588 757 or (08) 8395 9586

info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au
<mailto:info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au> 


PO Box 556, Ingle Farm, SA 5098


From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Rob
Sent: Wednesday, 20 November 2013 12:01 PM
To: Jess Tyler; Ward, Wesley
Cc: ASC Lists
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Past, present and future of ASC


One of the things that strikes me as a foundation member of ASC is the way
some of these issues resurface on a cyclical basis. That is not to say that
they should not, of course, but it does give a sense of deja vu.

Decades ago there was a concern among some of us that ASC was becoming a bit
journalism-oriented, and that "science communicator" and "journalist" were
starting to be used almost interchangeably. That is, I think, because the
hard-working and very dedicated executive members were mostly journalists
then, and that tended to push things in that direction. 

At that point my professional preoccupations and particular focus were in
writing science books, especially for the education market, and making
science TV (for the ABC and commercial networks). 
I was part of a group that argued for the kind of segmentation in ASC being
mooted now in this discussion. We actually used the term "Chapters" to
describe the proposed groupings, which were (from memory) things like
education (school and tertiary), writing (books and similar), program-making
(TV and Radio) and some others.  

Because my work has involved editing for various journals, I have on several
occasions been asked to talk to the (science) editors' conference, and I
discussed with them the idea that they should be a chapter of ASC (too many
professions start their own associations, but don't have the numbers to make
them work as well as they might). The editors, I think, decided not to let
go of the association they had already formed, and kept going successfully
on their own, although some were also ASC members. 

This notion of chapters was taken up and discussed widely in ASC, but it
never really happened. I don't think that anyone was to blame for this;
there were many reasons.  One was that some groups that seemed natural ASC
chapters to us, did not particularly attract those who we saw as filling
them. An example (at that time) was Museum and Zoo educators. I was then
President of Zoos SA (our zoos are run by a society and not the government)
so I was in a good position to encourage this, but the practitioners
themselves didn't make the connection that seemed so obvious to me.  Around
that time we also had some trouble attracting significant numbers of
teachers and other educators; certainly not enough to form a vibrant

Now we have educators and museum educators as active members arguing for
chapters, or similar, and, in the past few years, educators on the Executive
have been enormously productive in advancing ASC in that direction, just as
the journalists had been previously.

I suspect that, as people change their  professional focus, the amount of
time they have to commit, the intensity of their commitment etc etc,  the
numbers in each of these prospective chapters will cycle. My own ASC
experience has involved roles as university educator, writer, broadcaster,
editor, interactive science outreach administrator and more. At each stage I
would have welcomed involvement with others similarly employed, but there
were probably not enough at any one time to make a chapter strong enough to
work well, and that professional landscape kept changing - for others as it
did for me.

It is probably also true that the strengths of the executive members vary in
the same way, and because so much of what the executive does is governed by
what they can do in spare time as volunteers, there will always be a
tendency for them to have ideas and wish to pursue opportunities that
connect with their professional activities and interests. In many years as
VP and Executive member of ASC, I have seen this emphasis shift, and some of
the excellent achievements (like our involvement in IA) have been directly
attributable to the professional focus of the President and other Exec
members at that time.

I suspect that this mobility within Science Communication means that the
composition of our proposed chapters becomes something of a moving target,
with numbers often too small to create a workable unit within ASC. You see
it reflected when we survey our members (as I did in ASCSA a few years ago)
and try to discover where we might best offer activities. We had many
suggestions, but they varied widely;  from networking and museum visits to
media training and theatrical performances. We did most of them at some
stage over a two-year period, but not all events interested all members. so
numbers were sometimes lower that we would have liked.

I suspect that is why we all, in the end, fall back on the loose connection
of ASC being for people who are interested in science, which is true, but
hard to make work in a professional sense as it is the practicalities of
professional work that we want to explore.



Dr Rob Morrison
rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au <mailto:rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au> 
Phone: (08) 8339 3790
Fax: (08)8339 6272



From: ASC-list <asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au
<mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au> > on behalf of Jess Tyler
<jessyorta at gmail.com <mailto:jessyorta at gmail.com> >
Sent: Tuesday, 19 November 2013 4:12 PM
To: Ward, Wesley
Cc: ASC Lists
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Past, present and future of ASC 


I love the idea of interest-based groupings. There is no reason geography
can't play a role, but ongoing day to day interactions would be great on
Skype and Google.

Jess Tyler 

SciBiz Media & Communications

M: 0408 298 292


On Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 4:34 PM, Ward, Wesley <WWard at csu.edu.au
<mailto:WWard at csu.edu.au> > wrote:

Hi, as a long-term ASC member, occasional ASC conference goer and very
regional member (Albury - are we in NSW or Victoria anyway?), I would agree
with more interest based SIGs rather than geographic basis. I am a science
communication PhD student/researcher and an organisational communicator -
and comparatively isolated - so this would better suit my situation, and
might widen membership outside the cities, where a lot of science is done.

So, are any other members in the same boat? Time to talk!

Cheers, Wes Ward
CSU Media and PhD trekker

-----Original Message-----
From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au
<mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au> ] On Behalf Of Regan Forrest
Sent: Tuesday, 19 November 2013 4:28 PM
To: Jess Tyler; George Aranda
Cc: ASC Lists
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Past, present and future of ASC

Hi again,

Like Merryn, I have experience of SIGs within Museums Australia (I'm one of
the people keeping the Evaluation and Visitor Research Network going). I'm
also President of the SA Branch for my sins (see why I usually take a back
seat with ASC? ;) )

Looking at how the discussion is unfolding, I'm starting to wonder whether
geography (ie. state branches) is necessarily the best way to organise such
a diverse group as ASC, particularly in the era of Skype, Wikis and Google
Hangouts. Geography-based branches are starting to feel like the legacy of a
bygone era.

This is not to denigrate what happens at state level by any means. But in my
experience of comparable organisations, it does kind of build up the
assumption that "something", usually event-focused, needs to happen in each
state for people who happen to be there to feel like they're getting a slice
of the action. And events are time consuming and increasingly costly to
organise (unless you have a tame venue provider who can offer you space for
free or as good as). Also, smaller states are always going to struggle to
'compete' (not quite the right word,
sorry) with those that have larger memberships and so can put more things
on. Then of course there are the members based outside of capital cities.

ASC is a big tent and grouping people by geography seems a bit arbitrary
when shared interest might be a better way of doing it. This would be a
longer-term decision than for next week's AGM, but maybe ASC might want to
entertain the prospect of de-emphasising a state-based branch structure and
building more activity around groups with shared interest such as SIGs.

Just putting it out there . . .


ASC-list mailing list
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Charles Sturt University


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