The full house on the 376 from Bristol to Wells tonight might well have appreciated my bonnes pensées. They didn’t get them. But then, neither did the workshop on universities and public engagement that should have. Don’t you always have your most intelligent thoughts on the way home?
One thing that struck me was the fixation on public engagement as being ‘standing up and talking about your stuff’. In front of … eek! people! That’s scary, of course – takes a lot of courage. The fear of looking them in the whites of their eyes was high on the list of ‘things that put people off getting involved in PE work’ (there were lots of others). But surely there are other ways? Lots of academics have blogs, social network pages, twitter accounts, personal web pages; aren’t they public engagement? Don’t they count as engagement activities?
Fear works in the other direction too. Universities are big scary places — it takes all the courage I can muster to get myself to a public lecture. But I feel comfy on my sofa with my laptop, looking for information on … Engagement with science on the web is very much engagement – and with a potentially enormous public.
This was all so much better in that traffic jam …