The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) has climaxed the African Science Week 2022 celebration by organising ‘the Art of Science Communication’ at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Ghana (CSIR-STEPRI) Auditorium, Accra on Thursday, 2nd June 2022.
This year’s African Science week, the flagship programme for NEF, recognised the need to address challenges that inhibit people’s ability to understand science through effective communication.
Welcoming participants, the Director of the Council for Scientific Research and Innovation- (CSIR-STEPRI) Dr. Mrs. Wilhelmina Quaye used the case study of German scientist Albert Einstein to emphasize the importance of communication, especially in the Covid-19 era.
“He (Albert Einstein) was outspoken. Why is it important? Covid has taught us the importance of communication. What about bridging the gap between the scientific community and the non-scientific community? How do we use nonscientific knowledge? Are we using social media to communicate? What about using scientific language to combat fake news? We have to strengthen our position by communicating science better and achieving the SDGs better.
In a welcome remark, NEF Ambassador Justina Onumah could not hide her joy at the success of this year’s Africa Science Week West Africa, Ghana edition
“We believe that the next Einstein will be an African so we do this by engaging the youth. We aim to leverage science for our development through our Ambassadors, Fellows, NEF global gathering, and the NEF Policy Institute.
“We have had the West African edition. We had the Spotlight week, followed by a movie night, the climate change research week, women in science week, and today is the last event. “
Giving an overview of science communication, a Neuroscientist at the University of Ghana and GhScientific, Dr. Thomas Tagoe highlighted the importance of communication saying, good things happen when the scientific community engages the public. He spoke about developing a framework for communication, analysing the Science scene, and suggested ways to communicate science research such as through online webinars and what he called science street evangelism.
Gameli Adzaho of Just One Giant Lab gave a practical guide on ‘Science Communication in Practice’, and stressed that science communication is not the same as scholarly communication. He insisted on the need for clarity in science communication by first analysing ones target audience and presenting facts and key messages in simple terms.
Sampson Kofi Adotey of AIMS Next Einstein Initiative (NEI) engaged participants in a presentation dubbed, Tell your story: Media Guide for Scientists. Adotey spoke about the need for scientists to understand the media and regard the media as partners.
“Scientists have the misconception that the media can spin the story and end your career,” he said before adding, “But that is not the case. The likes of Steve Hawkings all tried very hard to leverage the media and build trust in science. The media should be seen as a partner. There is a way you can get the media to work for you without injuring your reputation. You can involve your communication department whenever you get a media request.
The presentations evoked some reactions from the distinguished guests and participants.
A former Director of CSIR Dr. George Essegbey particularly welcomed the suggestion by Dr. Tagoe to find ways to communicate ‘science through street evangelism.’
Another participant commented on why scientists should see the media partners. But he equally tasked journalists to avoid sensationalism of research findings such as the controversial ‘kenkey causes cancer’ story.
This year’s African Week celebration will forever be etched in the memory of the participants both in-person and virtual who joined the various sessions. It involved hundreds of people drawn from schools, professional scientists, non-governmental organisations, academia, and journalists.
The African Science week began on Wednesday 11th May with the Spotlight Session involving some trail-blazing scientists in Ghana at the Academic City University College Accra. It continued with the Africa Science Movie night on Friday, 13th May at the Ghana Tech Lab, the Women-in-STEM Outreach to a junior high school, the Climate Speakers Series on 19th May 2022 at the ISSER Conference room, and ended with the Art of Science Communication seminar at CSRI-STEPRI.