2.3 ‘Go Say’ science promotion events
An increasing number of science museums and science centres hold regular organised events that stand apart from their exhibitions. The Dana Centre, which now has a permanent venue in the Wellcome Wolfson Building at the Science Museum, holds 10–20 events each month. They are designed to provoke discussion through a blend of debate, art, multimedia and performance, covering issues such as the ethics of prolonging the life of foetuses, the role of science in alleviating poverty, and what is, and is not, medicine. The Centre is sponsored by the European Dana Alliance for the Brain, the BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science) and the Science Museum. Similar events include the ‘Citizen Science’ debates at the ‘At-Bristol’ Science Centre and the ‘Talking Point’ series at the Royal Institution.
Science Cafés, whereby people join informal scientific debates held in non-academic places such as cafés, bookshops or community spaces, have opened around the UK since their inception in Leeds in 1998. Science Cafés are coordinated by an umbrella group called Café Scientifique and sponsored by the Wellcome Trust (often alongside smaller, local organisations). They aim to let people air their views and ask questions, usually in response to a scientist or science writer invited to give a short talk about their work. Informality and enquiry are strongly encouraged: the Café Scientifique website claims: ‘There will be opportunity for everyone to ask questions, and we welcome those which begin “This might be a stupid question, but...”. These questions are invariably not stupid and often rather insightful.’