Expert Working Group - Developing an evidence base for science engagement

Inspiring Australia commissioned an expert working group to provide recommendations towards developing an evidence base on the outcomes and current state of science engagement in Australia. The state of Australians’ current attitudes and behaviours towards science and the impact of current science engagement activity will form the evidence base for future policy making and will help inform future investment decisions (Inspiring Australia Recommendation 15).

Chaired by Mr Richard Eckersley (Founding Director Australia 21), the working group delivered its report, Developing an Evidence Base for Science Engagement in Australia, in March 2011.

Through the Inspiring Australia Program, funding was allocated towards the implementation of the working group recommendations. An independent Steering Committee identified four projects to advance key recommendations, as well as further mechanisms and leveraging opportunities to support other recommendations. The projects are:

1. National Audit of Science Engagement Activity

Econnect Communication, in association with Bridge8, the Australian Science Communicators (ASC), and the University of Western Australia, will undertake this project to provide a national online database resource featuring a compilation of science engagement activities across Australia. These activities will be categorised according to a number of key areas including the Inspiring Australia Framework of Principles for Science Engagement Activities and the principles and outcomes of the Inspiring Australia report.

 An online database tool will also be created. It will be developed as an ongoing tool for identifying gaps, groups, regions, and collaborative opportunities.

2. Collation of Science Engagement Data Across Australia

This project is a partnership between the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, the University of Queensland and the Council for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS). Together, they will collate existing and developing national data that is relevant to science engagement in Australia, including peer reviewed literature, reports, census polls, evaluation data and information gained from interviews and surveys.

This data will include information on public attitudes, behaviours and engagement with the science throughout Australia.

3. Development of Evaluation Tools for Science Engagement Activities

The University of Western Australia, in collaboration with the University of Queensland, the Victorian Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development, and Econnect Communication will develop tools that will enable science engagement activities in Australia to measure their level of success. This will include the placement of these tools into public forums so that groups are able to use them; the collation and analysis of responses for the duration of the project; and the examination of the short to medium term outcomes science engagement activities are trying to achieve.

A fourth project will be commissioned to address the specific gaps, issues and opportunities identified by the first two project and ongoing work will be done to identify mechanisms and leveraging opportunities to advance other recommendations from this report.

Contact details

For further information, and to share your initiatives to support the Expert Working Group recommendations, please contact inspiring.australia@innovation.gov.au.

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