“I always jump at any opportunity to talk about my work, but I didn’t know how to get into science communication. Then I attended a FameLab training. I think I’ve found my calling! I want to talk to people about science for the rest of my life.” Read more
UKZN’s College of Health Sciences (CHS) is taking knowledge production to a new level through their Developing Research Innovation, Localisation and Leadership (DRILL) program.
In collaboration with the Kwa-Zulu Natal Department of Health (DoH), DRILL aims to identify and nurture the next generation of South African health science research leaders. The skills these researchers develop through the DRILL program will help confront local healthcare challenges whilst keeping South Africa on the forefront of globally competitive research and innovation.
Jive Media Africa has been awarded a 4-year contract, delivering strategic communication and media support in support of the program’s goals. We have been intrinsically involved in the development of the DRILL brand, representing excellence and diversity, as well as a suite of communication tools that position the programme as a significant contributor to health research in South Africa.
Over 5 years, DRILL is to link 20 fellows with leading academics in their fields to develop and boost their existing research capabilities in the interrelated fields of HIV/AIDS, Mental Health, Health Professions’ Education, Health Systems Strengthening and Research Ethics. High-profile mentors will arm each fellow with the necessary skills to lead culturally-aware, locally-valuable research programs that respond to the needs and capacities of the healthcare environment in Kwa-Zulu Natal and wider South Africa. Our valuable science communication training further enables the fellows to share their research with the public in meaningful and engaging ways.
We look forward to supporting DRILL on this inspiring journey towards world class research leadership for South Africa, and beyond.
Stories simplify communication. Through emotional connection and simple language, stories can make complex information relatable – resulting in dialogue and transformation.
To share experiences in storytelling and to gain insight from other communicators and researchers, Jive Media Africa presented a number of papers at the Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference 2018 which took place in Dunedin, New Zealand. Jive Media Africa’s work in this area includes comics, music and film among others, bringing researchers and the public together through participatory methods to create compelling media to transform the world.
- Participatory approaches to science communication. A workshop exploring approaches from Paulo Freire.
- #TheArtofResearch – Collaborations in art and science with comics, music and film.
- Comics as a means of science engagement – a poster presentation on the use of cartoons to explore the invisible world of nanotechnology.
- Stories can save lives: in their own words…experiences of living with HIV.
- Researching marginalised groups with research – a workshop exploring barriers to engagement.
Reaching large audiences with important information is a challenge faced by many government departments. Carefully considered policies can fail at implementation if key audiences remain disengaged. Read more
A palpable chemistry fills the East Rand township of Tsakane as 60 young scientists from 40 countries congregate with enthusiastic young South Africans. The purpose of this meeting? To explore strategies for science outreach and engagement. The result? Inspiration, hope and valuable new perspectives on old challenges.
It is a typical winter day on the East Rand and dodging potholes on dusty streets en route from their conference venue fills 60 young scientists with a sense of uncertainty. However, upon arrival at the African School for Excellence, the excitement is tangible: 50 smartly dressed members from two independent Science Spaza clubs have long awaited this visit.
The delegates are representatives from National Young Academies of Science from over 40 countries in SA for the Third Worldwide Meeting of the Young Academies of Science, a conference aimed at fostering global cooperation and networking amongst young scientists. A number of questions are on their minds, which have triggered this outreach and engagement with young science learners: Where are the spaces for scientists to engage with the public? How can scientists talk to young people to inspire them towards careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)? And how can they, in turn, hear about the challenges young people face?
The afternoon’s meeting is the initiative of the South African Young Academy of Sciences (SAYAS), which partnered with Science Spaza, a science clubs programme to facilitate the proceedings. Soon, the air is teaming with paper planes (hands-on activities are the hallmark of the Science Spaza experience) and attendees of all ages explore the complex scientific principles at play.
The ice is broken and invigorating inter-generational discussions unfold: the older delegates ask young learners how they motivate themselves, and what their biggest obstacles are on the path to achieving their dreams. Their responses include lack of parental support for science, inadequate funding, a lack of belief in themselves and the need for clear focus.
The scientists share their experiences of overcoming these obstacles with perseverance, hard work, goal setting and choosing the right support systems. There is also important advice about avoiding risks and pitfalls – including early pregnancy.
The learners challenge the scientists on the continued development of an HIV cure, the consideration of environmental impact and the importance of remaining curious – relevant and inspiring insights stemming from the experiences of living in under-resourced and vulnerable environments.
The insights from the Science Spaza clubs are testament to the success of the program. Science Spaza brings science directly to the public through activity-based learning resources, addressing the desperate shortage of opportunities for young people to undertake hands-on science learning in South Africa. The national network of over 150 self-initiated science clubs, an initiative of science communication agency Jive Media Africa, is an open invitation to young South Africans to form their own science clubs and receive resources and support. Science Spaza does all it can to facilitate science-society dialogue and advocates awareness and debate amongst its members in pursuit of tangible solutions.
The 3rd Worldwide Meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, which took place in Johannesburg from 20 to 21 July was hosted by SAYAS, an affiliate organisation of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). SAYAS represents the voice of young scientists in South Africa on national and international matters and provides a platform for young scientists to influence policy decisions.
The meeting was co-hosted with the Global Young Academy (GYA) which is a global body that represents the voice of young scientists around the world. It works to empower early-career researchers to lead international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational dialogue by developing and mobilising talent from six continents. Its purpose is to promote reason and inclusiveness in global decision-making.
As the sun drops low, Tsakane is bathed in golden light and the delegates board their busses. Many are about to embark on journeys to the other side of the world. They are taking with them the hopes and dreams of the next generation of South African scientists. Scientists and science club members are already thinking of ways to make the world a little bit better and a little bit safer, for all of us.
Dr Alastair Van Heerden, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Sweetwaters Office, posed interesting questions at the opening of the Amazwi Ethu: Speaking Back exhibition held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. What qualifies as photography art? Would it have been better to show images taken by professionals? It was clear from the exhibition that amateur photographers are equally, if not more capable of conveying important messages about their perceptions and experiences of the world. Amazwi Ethu is one of the outcomes of a photovoice research project implemented by the HSRC Sweetwaters office. The aim of the project was to allow young people from the Sweetwaters community to raise their concerns and experiences through photography.
As research engagement specialists, Jive Media Africa was contracted by the HSRC to assist in the production of a series of community engagement events to profile this research to a wider audience. This included a public exhibition of photographs at the Centre for Visual arts (CVA) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), a community meeting in Edendale and the production of a printed catalogue.
We are thrilled to announce our collaborative science outreach project with the South African Academy of Science (SAYAS), Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF) and United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UNMGCY) on 21 July 2017. Through Jive Media Africa’s Science Spaza programme, sixty scientists from different corners of the world will be sharing their experiences with members of Science Spaza science clubs in Gauteng and completing fun science related activities. There will be a special focus on demystifying science career choices – the idea is to broaden the outlook on the STEM field, as there are diverse and interesting pathways that students can follow.
Find out more about the Science Spaza programme at www.sciencespaza.org
It is with great excitement that we congratulate Tshiamo Legoale on her FameLab SA win at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Johannesburg. Tshiamo delivered three minutes of science communication excellence with her presentation on using wheat as a gold hyperaccumulator from mine tailing dumps, or literally growing gold from wheat!
Tshiamo was one of 10 finalists who progressed from their local heats through to today’s FameLab SA final, competing for an all-expenses paid trip to represent South Africa at the FameLab International Final at the Cheltenham Science Festival taking place from 5-9th June this year. She also walks away with R 5000 cash.
FameLab is an incredible opportunity for young scientists to develop lasting connections with public audiences. The Jive Media Africa pre-heat training covers everything from understanding the importance of public science communication to structure and storytelling to eye contact and body language, empowering participants to share their science with confidence and passion in the heats and beyond.
Thank you to our partners, the British Council and the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), for helping us make this event possible for the 5th year in a row.
We wish Tshiamo the best of luck and brilliance as she joins national winners from all over the world this winter in an attempt to bridge the gaps between science and society.
From left: Dr Sheetal Silal, senior lecturer and researcher in the Department of Statistical Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Ms Nanji Sheni, Engineer-in-Training at Mintek, Dr Jabu Nukeri, Managing Director at SAASTA, Ms Tshiamo Legoale, scientist at Mintek (Small Scale Mining and Beneficiation division).
Research is an essential tool to secure health and wellbeing for the people of Africa and the world. Without deeply understanding the complexities of health issues, we are unlikely to develop the necessary innovations to address them. However, when that research involves human subjects, it becomes critical to consider both the potential benefits and the potential risks of that research. It’s a complex field, and one which requires unique responses to local challenges. Jive Media Africa are proud to be working with the South Africa Research Ethics Training Initiative (SARETI) to develop communication tools to support the initiative by celebrating and nurturing health research ethics expertise in Africa.
SARETI is an African-based, multi-disciplinary Masters programme at the University of KwaZulu Natal (Pietermaritzburg) focusing on strengthening and deepening research ethics in South Africa and Africa. SARETI provides a variety of educational opportunities, varying from short courses to full masters programmes, and partners with numerous organisations in Africa, the United States and Europe. SARETI’s staff represent many facets of research ethics and are drawn from South African and international universities.
Jive is particularly excited about this work because it challenges us to think about how to do better public engagement around science. As an organisation which spends a lot of time navigating spaces between science and society, we feel that research ethics practitioners have a lot to contribute to the discussion on public engagement. Research ethics processes require researchers to engage with participants, often members of the communities which suffer the health problem at hand.
And this engagement doesn’t only happen at the end of the research as a way of “disseminating” findings but by necessity happens before, during and after the research. Not only do experts have to find creative ways of translating their science in order to have conversations with “non-science” audiences, but they are also compelled to listen to the responses of these audiences – and to think through the benefits and the risks of their research.
That kind of interaction fundamentally alters the research and over time, shifts the research agenda. And in a world where decisions are made for millions by relatively few, having meaningful conversations with people about their health and wellbeing, and about the impact of research in their lives, has to be a good thing.
Please visit the SARETI website if you would like to view or receive copies of the 2010 to 2014 newsletters: http://sareti.ukzn.ac.za/Newsletters.aspx