The 2011 British Science Association (BSA) Science Communication Conference is a annual two day event, this year taking place in King's Place, King Cross, London on May 25th and 26th, which brings together a diverse group of individuals and organisations to discuss different issues related to public engagement in science. The theme of this year's event is "online engagement" which sees an impressive line up of speakers and workshops to explore how podcasting, gaming, blogging, virtual worlds, citizen science, social media and more can help engage the public with the sciences. Tim Radford, Simon Singh & Robert Winston are amongst the speakers in a jammed packed programme of events which also includes Sophia Collins from 'I'm a Scientist Get Me Out of Here', Ed Yong and Kathy Sykes.
One workshop not to be missed is "More Than Friends: Turning Online Engagement into Empowerment", which is hosted by three Irish science communicators: Ian Brunswick from the Science Gallery; Aoife McLysaght TCD Genetics Lecturer and me, Frog Blogger Humphrey Jones. Our interactive workshop will discuss ways in which social media tools can help not only engage an audience but, more importantly, empower them. In the session we'll show examples (some personal) where engagement has yielded empowerment, show where it hasn't been empowering, and analyse why. In small breakout groups delegates will discuss online engagement tactics that have worked for them and the ways our audiences could be more empowered to affect change. Then, hopefully, we will pair the engagement activities up with empowerment potential, and a spokesperson from each group will present back strategies to the whole group at the end.