Science as Storytelling: From Facts to Fictions 20TH EMBL SCIENCE AND SOCIETY CONFERENCE - Germany

External Event - 24th to 25th Oct 2019

Location: Heidelberg, Germany

Conference Overview

In this meeting, we will explore the role of narrative in the communication of science. If scientists are prone to see ‘storytelling’ as having ambiguous connotations, the narrative format of communication is more or less taken for granted when science is being communicated to non-expert audiences. Narratives are ideal devices for facilitating comprehension, interest and engagement. Narratives are intrinsically persuasive, which offers science communicators their privileged means for captivating and influencing audiences.

Science communicators, whatever the medium they work with, texts, lectures, documentary films, museum exhibitions, etc., are the real masters of wrapping content borrowed from science into stimulating eye-opening narratives. In the postwar period, science communication evolved into a distinct professional field in its own right, encompassing a variety of communication expertise. The main actors are science journalists, science writers, and science educators, but also, increasingly professional scientists who feel motivated to reach out to help improve public understanding of science and to popularise it.

Furthermore, what does narrative in contemporary fiction have to say about the human dimension of science? Are its practitioners villains or heroes, stereotypes or multidimensional characters? Has fictional portraying of science in divers media given rise to new narrative forms? What could be their role in science communication? Can a novel, film or play make science more approachable or facilitate understanding of ethical questions or arouse curiosity about scientific concepts?

Session Topics

- The place of narrative in science

- How we do science, publish science and communicate science

- Science as a source of literary narratives

- Science as a source of narratives in entertainment media

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