Keynote Re-radicalising Science

Keynote speech Andy Miah

‘We need to be disruptive’

To reach a broader audience with scientific research, it is necessary to fundamentally re-envisage the way knowledge is disseminated, argued Andy Miah in his keynote speech.

‘How do we create knowledge? How do we involve the public? How do we remain vital in society at large in a time when everybody is in the business of knowledge creation, and the position of the academic is increasingly under threat?

‘I had a professor who once told me that the average academic article is read by six people. If we, as academics, want our findings to actually reach people and influence the public debate, we are in a challenging position. We need to be disruptive. If not, we allow other systems to monopolise the communication channels, and we limit our capacity to contribute to public discourse.’

Come fall in love

‘If you are trying to communicate science to a wider audience, you have a very small window to do that. You need to reach people when they want to be entertained. For instance, we created Amorance for the Manchester Science Festival in 2016: an evening in which you could explore the science of falling in love. We invited people to come along and fall in love with someone. During the night, we had all kinds of activities related to the science of love, and scientists from different fields were invited to share related research. Attendees learned something about what universities do, and how it has an impact on our understanding of the world.

‘If you are trying to communicate science to the public, you have a very small window to do that’

‘Trying to find opportunities to connect to a general audience is the essence of the notion of re-radicalising science. Just making your research open access doesn’t necessarily result in a wider public engaging with it. We need to be more critical, we need to be more creative, and we need to be more connected to society.’

Andy Miah

Professor of Science Communication & Future Media at the University of Salford