PLEASE NOTE: MIT announced it is delaying opening of the Institute until 10am on December 3 due to weather conditions in the area. Registration will therefore begin at 10am rather than 8am, and the conference itself will kick off at 10:20. We apologize for this inconvenience and look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow for a very full – if slightly shorter – day.
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
MIT Samberg Conference Center
50 Memorial Drive, 6th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142
10:00 am — Registration
10:15 am — Opening Remarks
10:20 am — Keynote Address
Building a Trusted “Brand Name” for Science: Some Do's and Don’ts
Scientists in all disciplines have much to learn from the actual science of trust and from organizations that have built trustworthy brands in this era of misinformation. The first step is to better communicate the norms of science that promote trustworthiness in research outcomes, signal clearly when these norms have been followed, and act promptly to rectify any breaches of the norms.
President, National Academy of Sciences
Ainissa Ramirez (moderator)
Scientist and Author of The Alchemy of Us (The MIT Press)
10:55 am — Communicating Science as Journalists
Journalists are at the vanguard of the public’s understanding of science. What dilemmas do they face? Should they wade into the politics on issues like climate change and vaccination? If they report on malfeasance or incompetence by scientists, does it increase public mistrust? How do they ward off the pressure to hype discoveries? And when it comes to educating the public about science, what methods work best in different media?
Professor, New York University
11:30 am — Centering Inclusion and Equity in Science Communication
In its broadest sense, “science communication” encompasses a wide range of approaches for engaging public audiences in conversations about scientific questions, processes and outcomes, from journalism to museums to community-based research. One key value that should link all of these efforts is a focus on inclusive and equitable communication. Yet, science communicators often make assumptions about their audiences that explicitly or implicitly exclude. This presentation will highlight efforts to prioritize inclusive science communication and summarize early findings from a survey of the field.
Chris Bourg (moderator)
Director, MIT Libraries
Executive Director, Metcalf Institute and Clinical Associate Professor of Environmental Communication, Metcalf Institute, University of Rhode Island
11:55 am — Major Media and Science News
What is the responsibility of the news media in communicating research to the world? What are the challenges, and what methods work to overcome those challenges? Which media organizations are doing a particularly good job at this?
Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau (moderator)
Chief Executive Officer and Publisher, MIT Technology Review
Managing Director, Boston Globe Media Partners
Science Reporter, The Washington Post
12:25 pm — Lunch and Digital Poster Session
1:20 pm — What the Data Say, and Don’t Say, about Public Trust in Science
For decades, public opinion polling has consistently demonstrated general support for science among Americans, even as trust in other institutions has declined. Yet there are areas of concern that science communicators should address, such as differences in trust among demographic groups and views on specific scientific issues. Dr. Randell will discuss nuances in interpreting the available opinion data, including the role of science literacy, what people think of when they hear the word “science,” and the distinction between trust in science and acceptance of related public policy choices. He will also present hypotheses for differences in trust in science across cultures and nations.
1:50 pm — Communicating Science as Researchers
What are some motivations for scientists who seek to share their research findings with broader audiences? How do researchers think about the audiences they aim to reach, and how do they craft the forms of their communications accordingly? What are some surprises or lessons learned from interacting with broad groups of nonspecialists?
David Kaiser (moderator)
Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and Professor of Physics, MIT
Professor of Chemistry and Biology, MIT
Professor of Physics, University of Southern California
2:30 pm — Serious Science and Math on YouTube
What is the science and art of explication? Why are good YouTube videos so good at getting to the nub of the matter? What can academic institutions learn from this?
3:10 pm — Break
3:40 pm — New Technologies for Public Understanding
How do we get outside of our own heads, and into the minds of the people who need to understand and use our work? That's a crucial question facing researchers, technologists, and journalists when it comes time to publish and disseminate. Learn about how researchers are using visualization technologies and search heuristics to understand how audiences approach their work – and in so doing, reevaluate their own mental models and improve their research.
Gabe Stein (moderator)
Head of Product and Operations, Knowledge Futures Group
4:20 pm — The No Jargon Zone: An Interactive Session
Sharing research is increasingly a goal of many scientists to explain why their work is relevant and should be supported, and to inject more evidence-based information into the public square. What tools do scientists need to translate their research for the public with accuracy, clarity, and brevity?
David Rotman (moderator)
Editor at Large, MIT Technology Review
Editor and General Manager, The Conversation US
4:45 pm — The Art and Practice of Science Communication
In this session, audience members will hear about the practice of science communication through two approaches--the writing of books for the general public and the training of scientists to be better science communicators. Ramirez will discuss her efforts to make science understandable to general audiences. O'Connell will share the lessons she learned as one of the pioneers of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Audience members will get a taste of the improv techniques which lie at the heart of the groundbreaking approach of this training center.
Editor, Annals of Improbable Research
Executive Director, Riley’s Way Foundation
5:10 pm — Long-Form and Beyond: The Purpose and Potential of Book-Length Science Writing
Long-form narratives can play a key role in shaping the public’s understanding of and appreciation for the importance and potential impact of modern science — but it takes more than the work itself for that to occur. Science writers Tom Levenson and Seth Mnookin will discuss the mysterious forces that help books reach their desired audiences — and why book sales are often a lousy way to gauge impact.
5:35 pm — Closing Reflections
In order to create needed political and behavioral change, research must be communicated in a way that increases public understanding and moves people and institutions to action. What have we learned from the #SpreadingFacts conference? And how can we carry these lessons forward in our daily work?
Amy Brand (moderator)
Director, The MIT Press
Co-founder, Knowledge Futures Group
Director of the Center for Civic Media and Associate Professor of the Practice, MIT Media Lab
Director, Knight Science Journalism Program, MIT