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European Television? a workshop to prepare a new agenda for science communication

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Working science culture into popular culture

An initiative has highlighted how television and Internet productions can highlight the significance of science in modern life. Science and broadcasting communities need to bridge the distances separating them, and to work to combine knowledge sets for the benefit of public education.

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Television and the Internet, as primary broadcasters of audiovisual content, have the capacity - and responsibility - to engage the public's interest in the impact of science. One way of doing this is to introduce much more science into drama, wildlife and even sports programmes, all of which play to huge audiences. Such an approach would involve enabling various changes on the production side; it has the potential to root scientific culture into popular culture. The 'European television - a workshop to prepare a new agenda for science communication' (Earthwake) project set out to provide the means for realising such a goal. The EU-funded project worked to prepare a strategy aimed at harnessing the potential of popular TV to promote enhanced awareness and interest in science. Project partners organised a two-day event at the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) 2006. The Earthwake event, which hosted leading European actors, TV executives, writers and producers, scientists and science communicators, led to helpful insights into barriers to promoting the new 'science in society' philosophy. These include insufficient awareness on the part of the broadcasting community of opportunities for including scientific content. Also, although the science community recognises the need to enhance public awareness of the role of science in society, there is little knowledge of the mechanisms and networks that could make this a reality. As such, Earthwake succeeded in highlighting the need to bring the two communities together and facilitate future collaborations so as to bring scientific culture to popular notice. Project efforts also led to a number of recommendations. These included promoting opportunities for contact and exchanges among relevant professionals, support for the research and development phases of script writing, and cross-training events for all involved. The latter would allow for a multidirectional transfer of knowledge and experiences and help professionals create TV programmes with significant science role model impact. Such initiatives and support actions would offer writers and other stakeholders with an interest in science the means to confidently forge forwards toward related TV and Internet productions.

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