THE MRC CENTRE FOR NEUROPSYCHIATRIC GENETICS AND GENOMICS (CNGG) believe it is important to support our early to mid career researchers with novel public engagement and communication training.
To this end we are working with science made simple who have organised our first training day on public communication (July 2010). This event worked with researchers to think about their communication skills. In particular, it supported them in thinking about the ways in which they might wish to get across complex ideas about genetics and genomics to publics, the ways in which they might want to engage with the printed press and television/radio, and how they might use their bodies and voices to communicate their ideas and results more effectively.
In addition to this, the Public Engagement Team is running a series of focus groups on 'Science in Society' for researchers at the CNGG. Researchers were presented with the ways in which their research reaches the public imagination – through newspapers, which have a broad reach but shallow effect on the individual imagination, and through commercial genomic testing websites, which have a narrow reach but deep impact on each person taking a test. Researchers discussed the difficultly of communicating the complexity of psychiatric genetics, and ideas of risk, and the reliance of the print media on the spectacular claim or the celebrity story. By running these focused discussions, the Public Engagement Team hopes that CNGG researchers will be better equipped to engage with the public and with their imaginations of psychiatric genetics.
Importantly, however, we want our members to actually go out there and engage with publics and so our researchers are encouraged and supported to communicate their work at our organised public events. So far, these have been a great success!