Postdocs & Public Engagement: the start of a development year

De deelnemers zijn bezig met een creatieve oefening om nieuwe publieksactiviteiten te bedenken
The participants workshopped creative ideas for new public engagement activities

How do you set up a good public engagement activity? And what makes good public engagement? And why would you want to spend your time and energy on it? These are some of the questions tackled by a brand new class of ten postdocs of the Faculty of Science during the kick-off session of the Public Engagement Academy for Postdocs on 28 November.

This programme was initiated by the Dean of the Faculty of Science as part of a broader plan to develop public engagement skills within the faculty. This programme will run for a year and the participants will learn a broad base of skills, including popular-scientific writing, dialogue training, impact measurement and podcast/video skills. They will also get help and guidance in developing their own public engagement activity.

Level up

One of the participants is theoretical physicist Antonio Ferreiro de Aguiar. “I decided to participate in the Academy because I want to level up my tools to create good public engagement projects. Since I work on very abstract and theoretical concepts about gravity, quantum and cosmology, I am interested in how to conceptualise these topics to make it easier to communicate about them with audiences outside my field.”

Deelnemers aan het werk bij de startsessie

During the kick-off session, the participants got to know each other and received a crash course in science communication basics. The group also discussed with Professor of Oceanography and Public Engagement Erik van Sebille and with each other what makes effective science communication and public engagement. As a group, they got to work on the challenges and restraints you face when developing an activity.

The participants also made a start with developing their own public engagement activity, which they will expand further in the course of the year. “My plan is to let primary school children do their own little experiments growing seeds,” says Monique de Jager, postdoc researcher in Quantitative Biodiversity Dynamics and one of the participants in the programme. “It would be great if this activity makes them appreciate nature (and science) more, and teaches children about the intrinsic value of life.”