Issue date: 22 December 2000

The Graphic Science team in the Faculty of Applied Sciences at the University of the West of England has won a prestigious £10,000 contract from the Royal Society of London. The Society has just received a large donation from the Kohn Foundation that will enable it to run an enhanced Science and Society programme. The aim of the programme is to re-build bridges between science and the public that have been badly damaged during the recent storms over BSE and Genetically Modified Foods.

The Graphic Science team, which is headed by Dr Frank Burnet, will be advising the Royal Society on the most effective ways of consulting the public about their views on the application of science and technology. The aim is to give the public more opportunity to have their opinions heard about the way science is applied and see them influence decisions about priorities and policies.

This new approach is being heavily promoted within the science communication community, and also across local and national government.

The work will involve a global survey of techniques that have been used to date and will also draw on the Graphic Science team’s own work in this area.

An example of this is the ‘Hot Topic’ stations within ‘Explore at Bristol’ that give visitors the opportunity to express and compare their views on cloning, genetics, robots, interactive TV and the future in general. These stations have been used by thousands of visitors since Explore opened in June.

Frank said, “The Royal Society is the most important scientific institution in the UK. It is very exciting to be in on the ground floor of a development that could have a considerable influence on how the relationship between science and society develops in this country,”

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