This is the second in a series of guest blog posts by leading climate scientists, science writers, policy makers and others involved in the ongoing debate about climate policy. We’ll be hearing from these guests regularly leading up to COP15 in December.
By Flora D. Martino
The science center community today plays a prominent role in communicating science to the general public. Science centers, science museums, and aquariums are well recognized by their visitors as ideal places for gaining scientific knowledge. In recent years, this role is not only informative; science centers are also deeply interested in generating dialogue with their visitors for a mutual exchange of information, experiences, and points of view to stimulate debate on climate change issues. For instance, presenting the social, economic, and ethical dimensions of climate change has become as important as describing the science behind the phenomena. Since science center and museum audiences are quite broad, from students to families to senior citizens, science centers have learned to use various different communication tools.
The expanding role of science centers in the field of science communication is exemplified by the recent launch of the Action on Climate Change through Engagement, Networks and Tools (ACCENT) project. Reflecting the decision of European science centers and museums to strengthen local efforts on issues of climate change, ACCENT gathers and coordinates science communication and public engagement practices about climate change issues in 15 partner institutions.
ACCENT proposes to contribute to the global campaign on climate change from the “informative” to the “active” phase by exchanging and disseminating practices, by taking specific actions that encourage the involvement of citizens in active participation and establishing dialogue among scientists, stakeholders, and the public. A large range of activities concerning climate change (hands-on learning, exhibitions, school labs, science demonstrations, games, lectures, and debates) will be organized by each of the partner institutions in order to increase visitors’ knowledge and to engage people in positive actions.
Events and activities implemented by ACCENT’s partners will be endorsed in a common global communication strategy under the message: “I DO. Commit yourself to action for the climate”. This message includes a dissemination plan for ACCENT to reach outside the consortium to any organization that deals with public engagement in science and technology.
ACCENT will organize a formal launch event at the Experimentarium Science Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark during COP15 this December. The overall goal of this event is to present the ACCENT initiative and activities to an audience composed of professionals engaged in communication on climate change. These individuals are the multipliers who will help the ACCENT activities reach a wider audience so that the public will benefit from ideas exchanged at the conference. The event will focus on international climate and energy issues and will include members of the international press and key persons in the area of climate research and policy.
ACCENT partner institutions include: Fondazione IDIS-Città della Scienza, Napoli, Italy; ECSITE-the European Network of Science Centres and Museums; Observa (a social science research organization), Vicenza, Italy; Genoa Aquarium, Italy; Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre, Vantaa, Finland; Arctic Centre, Rovaniemi, Finland; Techniquest, Cardiff, Wales, U.K.; Technopolis, the Flemish Science Centre, Mechelen, Belgium; Universeum, Göteborg, Sweden; Teknikens Hus, Luleå, Sweden; Nausicaa, Centre National de la Mer, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France; Experimentarium, Hellerup, Denmark; Teaduskeskus AHHAA, Tartu, Estonia; MadaTech, Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space, Haifa; and Bloomfield Science Museum, Jerusalem, Israel.
Flora D. Martino, Communications projects, Fondazione IDIS-Citta della Scienza