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Monday, September 16, 2019

Communicating science still a challenge

COMMUNICATING science to the masses remains to be one of the challenges faced by the scientists of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), said an Asean Science Diplomats official.

As a means to make the people of the Asean further understand weather and climate conditions in the Asean countries among many other concerns, the Asean Science Diplomats will hold their assembly at the Ritz Hotel from April 23 to 27.

Asean Science Diplomats Chair Director Glenn Banaguas said there is a need for the people at the grass roots level to understand climate change in particular.

He said when Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) hit the Philippines in 2013, the main problem seen was the failure to communicate to the people the intensity of a “storm surge”. As the term is not as familiar to a lot of people, especially the common residents of the affected areas, the strength of the water surge was stronger than expected causing more lives to be lost.

As far as climate change is concerned, Banaguas said a lot of misconceptions about it had been formed. He cited as an example the mere raining conditions during the summer months. Many would immediately assume it to be because of climate change. However, Banaguas said people have to be made understood that it is not always necessarily so.

“There is really a need for people of Asean to understand and to mitigate climate change that’s why what we’re doing is to do these types of initiatives to train and hire more people to work with scientists,” said Banaguas.

One of their main objectives is to be able to communicate science in a more popularized fashion that would be understood by the common people. Currently, he said they are partnering with the local government units, the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), and other different national institutions of other Asean countries in order for this goal to be realized.

When asked for any medium-term plans related to this dilemma, Banaguas said they are banking and will work with academic communication institutions. He mentioned as an example the College of Development Communication of the University of the Philippines Los Baños as one of the means to penetrate science communication to the people through early education of professional communicators.

Today, April 24, the assembly is scheduled to tackle means to identify and frame scientific messages for various audiences. In the forum titled ‘Handling Interaction with Media and Public Audiences: Finding the “So What” of Science’, the diplomats are expected to be able to craft effective grant proposals, clarify why their science matters, and to improve their communication. This session’s workshop will be spearheaded by communication specialist Ricardo A. Clores.

In the afternoon, Asian Scientist Magazine writer and communication specialist Ruby Shaira Panela will talk to the diplomats about digital journalism and online media. These media will be taught to the diplomats to provide them wider array of choices to communicate their study.

By April 25, a talk on the ‘Importance of the Scientists’ Involvement in the Public Communication of Scientific Research’ will be given by ABS CBN New Channel (ANC) anchor and WEnergy Pilipinas president Quintin Pastrana.


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