Media Release – 18 September 2012

Best practice examples of science engagement and the obligations of scientists to communicate and engage with the public will be explored at a forum in Canberra next week.

The Inaugural CHASS (Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences) Forum — to be held at the University of Canberra on Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 September 2012 — will focus on the impact that rapidly changing technology and scientific research are having on the lives of Australians.

Leading commentators, academics, strategists, politicians and journalists from Australia and overseas will be exploring and debating the big issues in diverse areas including the arts, technology, science, policy making and national identity.

“There’s no doubt the times are changing rapidly, and the impact of this change is being felt far and wide and in a variety of areas, from the arts through to education,” said CHASS President, Professor Sue Willis.

“It’s vital to ensure that the human element is not forgotten in amongst these challenges and opportunities.   This forum puts this very issue into the spotlight, and represents a unique opportunity to learn from and engage with great minds on a variety of topics.”

“The forum will reveal the latest thinking about how the human dimension is integrating with the changes happening across technology, science and society in general.  These are issues of national and global significance, and we’re looking forward to some robust discussions,” Professor Willis continued.

As part of the session ‘Talking Back to Science’, speakers will explore the obligations of scientists to communicate with the public, the drivers of conspiracy theories about science and technology, as well as best practice examples of scientists engaging with the public on potentially controversial topics.  The forum will ask: is the public the ultimate regulatory body for science?

Speakers at the session include Dr John Curran (General Manager – Communications, CSIRO), Misha Ketchell (Managing Editor, The Conversation), and Jan Ferguson (Managing Director, Ninti One).  The session will be chaired by Associate Professor Peta Ashworth, CHASS Vice President and Group Leader of the Science into Society Group, CSIRO.

These speakers will join a who’s who of national and international social commentators and industry experts at other forum sessions, including Joe Hildebrand (journalist and public commentator), Waleed Aly (broadcaster, author and academic), Lars Klüver (Director – Danish Board of Technology) and Harsh Shrivastava (Consultant – Planning Commission, India).

For more information and online registrations go to: http://www.conferenceco.com.au/chass.

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