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Communicating Science to Parliamentarians Workshop: Call for Applications

Applications invited from parliamentary staff (researchers, librarians, clerks) who regularly handle science related issues.

Members of African parliaments are increasingly required to address the science, technology and innovation aspects of important policy issues, such as climate change, infectious diseases, ICT infrastructure, agriculture and food security, etc. They rely to a large extent on parliamentary staff to provide them with the information they need for informed debate on proposed new laws in such areas, and carry out the effective scrutiny of government.

Parliamentary staff therefore often act as “middlemen” in the communication between scientists, producers of new technologies and such policymakers. But as few staff come from a scientific background, they are likely to lack some of the relevant skills needed to communicate scientific and often technical knowledge effectively to parliamentarians, and vice versa.

To provide an introduction to and basic training in some of these skills the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (UKPOST), the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS), and Science and Development Network (SciDev.Net) are pleased to announce a five-day course on “communicating science to policymakers” in Kampala during the week starting on the 22nd of September 2008.

Applications are invited from parliamentary staff whose work includes the provision of advice and information to Parliamentarians on science, technologies and innovations for development issues. Suitable applicants include researchers and librarians within parliamentary libraries and clerks to committees dealing with science and technology or related subjects.

Candidates do not need to have scientific qualifications, or to work exclusively on science and technology issues.
The course will be conducted by experts in the field of science communication and science policy from the UK and Africa, and will involve a combination of lectures, practical exercises and discussion workshops, as well as a programme of networking events with science journalists, academic scientists and policymakers.

The primary focus will be to help participants develop skills required to effectively communicate scientific and technical information to policymakers in forms that are readily accessible and easily understood. This will cover both the format and the content of effective communication about scientific issues.

The course will also help participants develop skills in the following areas:

    • how to identify the needs of Parliamentarians for scientific information or advice on scientific issues;
    • how best to draw on the expertise of the scientific community;
    • how to access the required information most efficiently, particularly through the use of the Internet and authoritative knowledge databases, and networking with the scientific community;
    • how to communicate science and technology most effectively; and
    • How to assess both the immediate and long-term outcomes of such communications.

Participants' travel, airport transfers and accommodation and meals (up to a value of $30 per day) will be covered. Participants will be expected to participate fully in the course activities and to complete a mock policy briefing on a topical scientific issue by the end of the course, which will be assessed by the course tutors. A training certificate will be issued on successful completion of the course.

Prospective participants are invited to send their C.V. to info@atpsnet.org along with the attached form. Candidates are required to complete a 200 word description of their current work and assessment of how the course will benefit them.

Application and Selection Procedure:

    • Submission deadline: 9 June 2008. Late applications will not be considered.
    • Review of applications received 9 – 20 June 2008.
    • Successful candidates will be notified by 27 June 2008.

Please note that demand for places is likely to be high and it may not be possible to accommodate all applications. Due to funding constraints, there are only a limited number of places for applicants from outside East Africa. Disappointed applications may be considered for places on any similar courses held in future years.

Contact Details

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