A plug for Risk Science Unplugged. Next up – Gulf Oil

by Andrew Maynard on April 3, 2011

OK so this is a shameless plug for the University of Michigan Risk Science Center Unplugged series of discussions (if you’ll forgive the pun) – and specifically the live/webcast event we’re having on the health impacts of the Gulf Oil Spill on April 14.

But I actually think the series is good enough for a bit of a plug here – not that I’m bias!

Fist a confession though: I get really bored with hour-long PowerPoint presentations and talking head monologues (sometimes, even when I’m the speaker!).  More significantly, I think there are better ways of exploring contemporary issues than just watching a series of slides and listening to someone drone on.  So when we were thinking about a format for the Risk Science Center to start tackling knotty human health risk-related issues, we tried to come up with something a little different.  The thought process went something like this:

  • Lets ditch slides, because they’re tedious.
  • And while we’re at it, let’s avoid long expositions from dull speakers.
  • Rather, why don’t we get a bunch of experts from different perspectives to discuss issues candidly…
  • …in a way that’s engaging to a wide range of people…
  • …with the opportunity for the audience to throw their questions into the mix…
  • …and with a strong moderator to keep things on track and stop them getting boring.
  • And why not make things web-interactive – with on-line resources, questions and answers, video streaming, ever a Twitter hookup?

The result was the Risk Science Unplugged Presents series – interesting people talking about interesting stuff, without the hassles of PowerPoint.  And fully web-interactive, so that people can watch and participate, even if they are not in Ann Arbor.

I’m rather excited about the series – but then I guess I would be.  Our first one was on nanotechnology.  The next – coming up on April 14 (10 – 11 am Eastern Time) is on the human health impacts of the Gulf Oil spill – and we have a stellar lineup, including:

  • The deputy Director for Program from NIOSH,
  • a PI on the recently launched NIEHS GuLF STUDY,
  • an MD
  • and an environmental lawyer.

So please check out the series, and join us if you can on the 14th – either in person, or via the webcast.  And please spread the word around – come September we will be kicking off a new series of Unplugged events.

And just to make things as easy as possible for you, there are the key links:

Enjoy!

1 Mike Rodewald April 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Totally agree, having someone trudge through a 45 minute PowerPoint is not the best way to communicate science, even to other scientists.

On the topic of proper science communication, you might find this video from the NSF interesting. Alan Alda discusses what he learned about getting scientists to communicate during his PBS show, Scientific American Frontiers. His basic premise is that scientists become incomprehensible when lecturing, but much better when having conversations. http://www.nsf.gov/news/mmg/mmg_disp.cfm?med_id=69256

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