The BDI education team have significant expertise in the field of public engagement. Through its education and outreach programme we actively promote the concept of Scientific Citizenship, providing citizens with the competencies, knowledge and skills to interact with science and technologies that extensively shape everyday life. This is captured through two projects as highlighted below:
This discussion tool was developed by the BDI Education team as part of the MicroFUND PlayDecide programme to engage participants of adult education programmes (DCU in the Community and the Dublin Adult Learning Centre) in dialogue on health topics of personal relevance. The team adapted and augmented the card-based PlayDecide game with a variety of multimedia elements to promote debate and discussion on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and disease risk factors. The event encouraged participants to identify social, medical, scientific and ethical issues around screening for disease and knowing the risk factors for these two important diseases. The open-ended question posed – is it a good idea to know what diseases you are at risk for, or are there too many unknowns? These deliberative events showcased a creative and innovative way for the public to engage with the social and ethical issues surrounding health science. The events highlighted gaps in participants’ knowledge and their ability to make sense of health information they come across in their daily lives, for example, cholesterol levels.
The education team intend to utilize the play decide format in upcoming public engagement activities.
Debating Science Issues
Debating Science Issues is a dynamic debating competition which invites young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. Funded by the Wellcome Trust and coordinated by 9 research, medical and science centres in Ireland, Debating Science Issues is what true debate is all about. The BDI E & O team have developed a 3-hour interactive student workshop on health and self-testing, which students take part in before the debating competition begins. The team co-ordinates debates in the Leinster region of Ireland, and has worked with over 250 students since the competition began in 2007. Danielle Nicholson at NUIG is the Ireland co-ordinator of the DSI project.
As part of the programme both formative and summative evaluation is carried out. In 2011, the workshops involved 637 students and 438 progressed to the debating arm of the competition. 89% of participating students agreed that from discussing the research topics, they understood how scientific knowledge and ideas can change over time.