Current projects in the Science Communication Unit
Staff from the Science Communication Unit (SCU) work on a wide range of projects, as researchers and practitioners of science communication.
Our projects are organised under five themes, though they may bridge more than one category. View them below:
Science, technology and engineering
Exploring and facilitating relationships between natural science, technology, engineering and society.
The consortium for this project will develop robots which have improved power, sensing, communications and processing power. They will also develop systems which are able to address issues around grasping and manipulation, computer vision and perception. Importantly, the robots will be autonomous – able to operate without direct supervision by humans.
The European Robotics League (ERL) is a novel common framework for two indoor robotics competitions, ERL Industrial Robots and ERL Service Robots, and one outdoor robotics competition, ERL Emergency Robots.
To create a buzz around Astronomy and Earth Sciences leading up to the 200-year anniversary celebrations in 2020, the Royal Astronomical Society is funding various tranches of outreach and engagement activities all over the UK. We are carrying out the evaluation of these activities as part of a team led by Jenesys Associates.
In the next 20 years, we expect to see autonomous vehicles, aircraft, robots, devices, swarms, and software, all of which will (and must) be able to make their own decisions without human intervention. This EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) funded project is concerned with building autonomous systems that are verifiably correct.
Health and wellbeing
Examining the ways that communication plays a role in health and wellbeing.
This research project explores the visual discourse of pro- and anti-vaccine images used for advocacy on Twitter, and investigates the networks that share these pictures.
A team drawn from different disciplines – public health, urban design, economics and science communication – are developing an economic valuation model and engaging with the private sector to deliver healthy planning principles in the Wellcome Trust project 'Moving health and sustainability upstream into strategic urban development decision-making'.
Sustainability and the environment
Studying and enabling communication in areas related to sustainability and the environment
ClairCity is an innovative project involving thousands of people in cities across Europe, enabling us all to decide the best local options for a future with clean air and lower carbon emissions. ClairCity is funded by the European Union.
A multi-disciplinary team are developing an innovative drought science-narrative resource that can be used in decision-making for drought risk management. SCU is involved in two specific research projects: one explores barriers and enablers to drought communication and the other is considering how best to engage stakeholders in this type of interdisciplinary project. SCU is also involved with the citizen science and public engagement aspects of DRY, supporting researchers in developing and delivering activities.
Our objective is to understand and manipulate the in-situ biogeochemistry of waste within waste repositories (eg landfills, industrial waste, municipal solid waste, metallurgical and mining waste) to recover valuable resources by leaching and other treatments whilst the material lies in situ, thus avoiding the need to actively extract the material and thereby minimise ecological and environmental impacts.
The SfEP team of science-policy specialists manage a robust review process, producing bi-weekly news alerts on the latest, significant environmental research for policy makers, researchers and the public – especially with regard to emerging risks and new technologies. The newsletter has over 20,000 subscribers, and the team at UWE Bristol has run the service for the European Commission, Directorate General Environment since 2007.
Social science and art
Investigating public engagement in the social sciences and arts.
Careful is exploring the potential of drama to help student nurses explore and reflect on their roles as carers.
Informal and formal learning
Research and practical projects that link science communication and education.
UWE BoxED is a school focused outreach programme of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)-related activities. The activities take place at the school and, this year, the focus is on Key Stage 3 and 4 (Years 7–13). The aim is to support schools in delivering engaging STEM content and keep students excited about STEM subjects.
A new undergraduate module is being developed to provide student engineers opportunities to practice their public engagement skills with pre-service teachers and primary school children. To support Continuing Professional Development in this area, a new network for STEM outreach in primary schools in the Bristol region has been established, called Curiosity Connections Bristol.
A project investigating UWE Bristol’s role in festival engagement, to understand how the activities that take place within a festival setting can generate ‘social capital’.
Laura Fogg-Rogers’ DPhil aims to explore preferences for, and cultures of, science communication at live science events.
The Festival of Nature, British Science Week and Bristol Food Connections are just some of the popular science events that engage hundreds of thousands of members of the UK population each year. This evaluation looks at why audiences attend and how festivals can evaluate their impact.