Hi George, and others,

Like many I am a long term reader and rare contributor to the ASC list. I don't think I can recall the last time a discussion was this emphatic or prolonged in the 12 or so years I've been hanging around.

In that twelve years I have worn a variety of science communication hats going from well funded, underfunded and barely funded positions and back again. I've been a government employee and a freelancer and several other things besides. I now plonk myself firmly in the science education and academic camp, with forays into science and the media.

I like your suggestion George. I was a member of Museums Australia for a few years, which had some good SIGs. I was involved in the Evaluation and Visitor Research SIG which suffered from the same issues that plague the ASC. People were interested in being involved, to a point. It fell to the passionate few who cycled through the 'executive' positions to keep it running. And that will always be the case, even if we had a well defined profession. I'd wager that even legal or accounting associations would have the core cadre of people who shouldered the responsibility and kept it running. Look no further than your P&C committee at your local school. Same story!

As others have pointed out, the ASC is internally focussed. And why not? There are precious few other groups out there that cater to science communicators specifically. A committee or a group is only as beneficial and useful as you make it.

So yes George – I would dearly love to be a part of a science education SIG. To me, it doesn't even need to be a formalised group. If science education is your bag then please email either myself or George (I'm assuming since you're suggesting it you're happy to do this too George!), we'll establish a mailing list and a google drive, wiki space or carrier pigeon courier company and start sharing.

I'll apologise if this comes in late to the party. I get the digest option which tends to have me lagging slightly behind.  So if someone else has already started this ball rolling, so be it. If not, my offer stands. This is something that I would like to get out of my ASC membership, and if others can benefit from it too then I'm happy to get involved and help facilitate that. To me, this is one of the fundamental purposes of the ASC – sharing best practice, experiences and frustrations so we can all take our profession forwards.

Kind Regards

Dr Merryn McKinnon
Research Fellow | Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
The Australian National University | Physics Link Building, Building 38A | Canberra ACT 0200 Australia
Ph: +61 2 6125 4951 | Fax: +61 2 6125 8991  | Twitter: MezMcK

Cricos Provider# 00120C

From: George Aranda <george.aranda@deakin.edu.au>
Date: Tuesday, 19 November 2013 3:44 PM
To: ASC Lists <asc-list@lists.asc.asn.au>
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Past, present and future of ASC

Well said Daniel (via Lee).

I am relatively new to ASC (a couple years as a member, but now part of the Victorian committee). I am interested in science communication as a science educator and academic, which I believe is a very small part of what ASC does.

A question. Have there been SIGs (Special Interest Groups) before? I would be interested in being part of discussions with those who would be interested in my small area, and embrace using Skype, google hangouts and other video conferencing technology.

Are people interested in SIGs??


Dr George Aranda
Research Fellow – Science Education
Faculty of Arts and Education

From: Mobile Science Education <info@mobilescienceeducation.com.au>
Date: Tuesday, 19 November 2013 3:26 PM
To: ASC Lists <asc-list@lists.asc.asn.au>
Subject: [ASC-list] Past, present and future of ASC

The following is from Daniel Keogh, ex-ASC member, and is shared by request. A valuable contribution to the current ‘debate’.


(and on a related note: has there ever been any effort to do an exit survey on members who let their financial status lapse for more than 1 year?)


Lee Harrison

Mobile Science Education


0430 588 757 or (08) 8395 9586



PO Box 556, Ingle Farm, SA 5098



It’s been great to watch this evolving debate on the ASC-list; a refreshing shift from the small fry problems such as how one pronounces ‘kilometre’.


As Nancy mentioned, the diversity of opinions demonstrates passion and commitment to the cause.


But let’s talk about diversity…


As many have mentioned, being a science communicator is a tricky thing to classify. We have journalists, communications officers, entertainers, educators and producers.


But there’s diversity in our financial, geographical and practical dimensions too.


Some of us are contracted with healthy salaries, others run small business. There are freelancers who live by each paycheque and dreamers whose desire is simply to affording the oil to give their rags an aroma.


We’re from all over the nation. Our nearest event could be within our building, a drive from beyond the metro or a flight from the other end of the country.


There’s also what is practical and relevant to each of us. We have some that directly antagonise social media platforms, and others that live by them. Those that value practice and those that value theory. Some serve masters and some are their own. There’re talkers and actors and curious spectators.


Roll the dice on any of these dimensions and you have a science communicator, each with different circumstances. What a bunch of mongrels we are, you and I?


My profile falls in the category where the travel is too long and costly, the discussion is inapplicable and the communication methods inefficient. That’s why I don’t support a conference and why I ultimately left the ASC.


But I’m just one member of this multi-disciplinary monstrosity. Others have clearly found value with the group and continue to create it too.


However, I feel diversity isn’t helping our community. Go back to first year Science Communication: who is your audience ASC?


Is it science public relations and communications officers?

or science journalists?

or science outreach teams?

or academics?

Or science popularisers and performers?


We’re really just a family of orphans here, planning what we’ll do at Christmas. Will we bring together the ‘family’? Or hang out with the people we have more in common with?


As far as I see it ASC needs to pick what it wants to be, or else nurture the diversity.


Lee rightly feels marginalised when people on the list (who can afford to attend conferences and help organise them) don’t value his input, or even address him in person. And you wonder why survey responses are so low.


And how can individual branches expect more than single figures when an event may only be relevant or appealing to a few members? Or the discussion group goes dead after the grammar nazis are done discussing their pet peeve?


Perhaps it’s chapters we need, or forums for different types of communicators, or to define exactly what ASC is and isn’t. But you’ll never grow your membership unless you embrace and increase what you all share in common.


And honestly, besides a love of science, that’s not a whole bunch.

Daniel Keogh


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