Connecting Communities Through Science

Midlands Science is pleased to announce Science Communities, an exciting new project which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland through the Discover Award programme and is designed to build impactful dialogue and discussion between community groups in the Midlands and those involved in science and public policy. The experience of the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how science and science-based decision making has a powerful effect on our future economic and social wellbeing. It has also taught us about the importance of trusting science, fostering connection and having high-quality dialogue and shared learning. 

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman commented,  

 ‘In order to have an engaged public, it is important to recognise that science is not limited to formal education and is not just a collection of facts. It should also allow people to challenge what they read and hear about. Through community forums, we want to create a realistic and open conversation about the science behind decisions, how scientific evidence informs public health advice and how this information is communicated to the general public. We want to explore where there could be misinformation and resistance among the general public and use this as an opportunity for people to become more informed. We will be encouraging open debate and effective conversation between members of the public, experts from the fields of science and health care and the policy makers in our society. We are keen to be as inclusive as possible and we will therefore be aiming to have a broad range of people from across the Midlands taking part in these forums which will explore a range of issues from food and alcohol to diseases and positive psychology and much more.’ 

 These forums, which will feature leading Professor of Biochemistry and Immunology, Luke O’ Neill will explore the following topics: 

Show me the Evidence – Exploring Science & Scientific Evidence 

 Sugar, Spice & everything Science – The Science of Food & Alcohol  

 Viruses, Vaccines and Immunity – The Science of Diseases 

 Medicine and Health – Who and how we can trust? 

 As an additional support, all ‘Science Communities’ participants will be offered free training in LIFT facilitation skills. LIFT is a not for profit organisation which aims to increase the level of positive leadership in Ireland.  This project is a collaborative opportunity for people to enhance their skills and enable themselves  to become leaders of science engagement in their communities. It will consist of four public engagement forums and one LIFT training day. Given the current restrictions that are still in place nationwide, these public engagement forums and training days will take place online. The project will run during the months of August, September, Oc tober and November.  

 Dr Ruth Freeman, Direc tor of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland said: 

“Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support this Science Communities initiative, facilitating open dialogue at a time when understanding how scientific evidence informs public health advice is so important. This inclusive approach to science outreach will hopefully help members of the public feel more informed and more connected to the science behind public health policy, while allowing policy makers to build confidence and trust, by listening to and engaging with the public.” 

Jackie Gorman continued,  

“We are now seeking people from the Midlands  to engage with this project. If you are interested in facilitating discussions and taking in part in open dialogue with others around the topics of health, pandemics, science-based decision making, communication and misinformation, we would like to hear from you. We will be asking a small number of participants to take part in interviews at different stages and this will be crucial to reviewing the overall success of the project but it is not necessary to have any prior knowledge of science in order to partake. We are looking for a broad range of people from the midlands to participate and we are particularly interested in engaging people who would not usually interact with science or STEM in their everyday lives.” 

If you are interested in taking part in this project please email