How can science be communicated?

Australia's best science communicators will come together to explore the challenges of relaying complex and important scientific information to the wider community.

Robyn Williams, presenter of ABC's The Science Show, will join science editor Elizabeth Finkel and former CSIRO Chair, La Trobe Chancellor Adrienne E Clarke at La Trobe University's Ideas and Society program to discuss the challenges of communicating science.

The forum, held one week after the Federal Budget is delivered, will also present an opportunity to assess how any funding changes to the CSIRO and the ABC might influence the strength and clarity of science communication in Australia. This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of ABC's Science Unit.

Convenor of the Ideas and Society program, Professor Robert Manne, said that communicating the conclusions of scientists to the general public is one of the most vital issues of our era.

'No question looms larger for the future wellbeing of our civilisation than the success of scientists in bringing the conclusions of their work to the attention of society in a way that creates political momentum for change,' Professor Manne said.

'This is particularly true given growing public scepticism about the reality and gravity of the looming climate crisis, which is underpinned by widespread distrust of climate science.

'For this reason, the question of how to communicate science is of great importance,' he said.

Event details

What: Ideas and Society event: Communicating Science

When: Tuesday 20 May 2014, 12.30pm – 2.00pm

Where: John Scott Meeting House, La Trobe University, Bundoora

Attendance: All welcome, no RSVP required

Webcast: Watch live or after the event

Social media: Follow @latrobenews on Twitter and use the hashtag #ideasandsociety to join the conversation

Media contact

Suzi Macbeth, Media and Communications Officer

T + 61 3 9479 5353 | E


Adrienne E Clarke AC is Chancellor of La Trobe University. She was formerly Professor of Botany at the University of Melbourne and Chair of the Board of Australia's premier science body, CSIRO. She is a Fellow of both the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. She has written four major scientific books dealing with chemistry, cell biology and genetics, and has served on the Prime Minister's Science and Engineering Council.

Robyn Williams AM is a respected science journalist and broadcaster. He has hosted ABC Radio National's The Science Show since 1975. Williams has written ten books, including his autobiography And Now For Something Completely Different. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and has been proclaimed a National Living Treasure.

Elizabeth Finkel is an Australian science journalist, best known for her books Stem Cells: Controversy at the Frontiers of Science and The Genome Generation. Elizabeth is Editor-in-Chief of Australia's premier science magazine, Cosmos Magazine, and a Vice-Chancellor's Fellow at La Trobe University. She formerly worked as a broadcaster for ABC Radio National.

Robert Manne is Emeritus Professor of Politics, a Vice-Chancellor's Fellow and Convenor of the Ideas & Society Program at La Trobe University. A leading public intellectual and commentator, he is the author/editor of over 20 books including Left, Right, Left: Political Essays 1977 - 2005; Making Trouble: Essays against the New Australian Complacency and three Quarterly Essays, most recently Bad News.