You’ve seen those links or outrageous statements on social media. Clickbait? Or some attempt to influence your behaviour? Perhaps it’s a comment from someone you know or admire, telling you to try something new or to boycott a brand? I see them all the time and sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

You’ve probably also seen images of floods, famine and forest fires. So-called “natural disasters”. 

Polluted rivers. Plastic debris in the oceans. Inequalities and humanitarian struggles throughout the world. These present us with challenges. Global challenges. Yet so often, those images can be forgotten as they do not affect our everyday lives.

Or do they?

Stop and think. Have you ever stopped to think about the effect that your decisions have on the world around you? By world, I mean other people, the animal kingdom, plants… the planet.

The decision to buy a particular food that has been flown thousands of miles from where it was grown and transported to your local supermarket? Or to buy a cool t-shirt that was made overseas where the workers are poorly treated and paid very little? What happens to that t-shirt when it wears out and is thrown away? And all this so that so we can keep up with that latest fashion trends?

It’s decision time. Like it or not.

I’m not here to preach, but I will take you on a journey of discovery about how you can work towards a better world. By engaging with your target audience, you can actually influence other people’s behaviour. You could even inspire someone to go and study an area of science in more detail. The scope is limitless.

The key word here is engagement. It’s not always easy to pull off and you will find yourself outside your comfort zone at times. I do this professionally and still get nervous at times. But imagine how it feels to know that you’ve engaged with someone using science and have had a positive influence on their behaviour? Maybe that you have helped them make a decision that gives them a better quality of life? Or that they have been able to reduce their negative impact on the planet?

Surely this is a force for good?

Well, that’s exactly what science communication is all about.

And this is where you come in! With your honed skill and refined ability to capture attention. We’ll look at producing videos, podcasts, interviews, science shows, news articles and more. All of these are designed to win the attention of your audience and engage with them.

You’ll also learn about interpreting other people’s work to spot hidden agendas or misleading statements.

Call it public engagement. Call it influencing. Either way, if we are to truly tackle our global challenges head-on, we need to be able to communicate the science of what is happening in the world if we are to change our collective decision making.

Flippin’ heck. That sounds like a tall order.

Are you with me?

– Matthew Tosh, Science Influencer Course Leader