‘Public Engagement’ has lately become a buzz word in academia… It has become more and more important to engage the public and explain what we do in the lab to them, being ultimately the major stakeholders of the majority of our research…
Bearing this in mind, the University of Sheffield is increasingly being part of this culture with initiatives for the public from the Festival of the Mind to the Science and Engineering Week… This time of the year was the time for the Mobile University: talks from academics, from PhDs to Profs, about their research to the general public…. on a double-Decker in Sheffield city centre!
I volunteered to be a speaker and I got the opportunity to explain to the public what tissue engineers do and who we are. We had iPads where we could follow the power point presentation and I also brought props such as stents, vascular grafts, orthopaedic prosthesis, and skin dressings. All this material had one point: to make the public appreciate the innovations in medical technology; all the materials used by doctors and surgeons are designed and tested by scientists who are also involved in developing new and better materials.
I think it is incredibly important to share the enthusiasm of our subject with other people, and clear communication is a skill that we, as scientists, have to learn! It was a great experience for me and (hopefully) for them, there is nothing more rewarding than sharing our passions, isn’t?
The rules of public engagement are really simple but incredibly important: volunteer when you have the occasion, keep it simple and clear, talk slowly and, most of all you have to be enthusiastic about your subject. It will come across to the general audience!
If you are curious about the life of a PhD student, follow my blog at http://www.sciencetoinspire.wordpress.com