Nancy, France from the 1st to the 6th of June 2015.
Hester du Plessis, Faculty Head,
Humanity at MISTRA, attended a science communication conference in Nancy,
France from the 1st to the 6th of June 2015. She is a
member of the Steering Committee of the Journées Hubert Curien International
Conference on Science&You that took place in Nancy (France). The Conference
was hosted by the University of Lorraine at the Centre Prouvé in Nancy - 1
Place de la République and was attended by 50 countries with some 700
presenters. The Science&You Conference Centre recorded 10,000 visitors
during the week of this event.
Hester has been involved in the
planning of this conference for the past two years. The previous Journées
Hubert Curien conference took place in 2013 and was based on the theme Science
communication today: international perspectives, issues and strategies. The
2013 conference led to the production of a book: Baranger, Patrick &
Schiele, Bernard. 2013. Science
communication today: international perspectives, issues and strategies.
Paris: CNRS Éditions.
Hester du Plessis hosted and
presented a paper for one of the sessions based on the topic of: Political challenges for science
communication: perspectives from Africa, India, Canada, France and Europe.
She was joined in the session with presentations by Prof Joelle Le Marec,
Professor of Information and Communication Sciences at the Centre de Recherche
Lettres Arts Cinéma (CERILAC) at the University of Paris, Diderot; Professor
Bernard Schiele, Science communication specialist, University of Quebec in
Montreal and Professor Gauhar Raza, Science Communication through Multi-media.
NISCAIR, CSIR, India. The presentations will be submitted to a future edition
of the Journal for Scientific Temper.
Pictures from the Conference can
be accessed by: http://www.science-and-you.com/en/node/35
details are posted on: www.science&you.com
A declaration was issued at the
launch of the first day of the conference and comments were discussed during
the closing ceremony. The declaration was well received, evoked constructive
debates and was signed by more than 50 of the delegates. The declaration will
be shared with a wider audience in the coming months after the conference – the
task will be facilitated by the VC of the University of Lorraine, Professor
Nancy declaration 2015.
This gathering of 1,000 Scholars,
Researchers and Science Communicators, from 50 Countries, assembled at the
International Conference, Science and You-2015, Nancy, France, held from 1st to
6th June, takes note of the following developments in the recent past.
1. The history of science shows
that the development and propagation of scientific ideas has sometimes been
challenging traditional belief systems, conservative cultural groups and the
intolerant sections of ruling classes.
2. Contemporary debates show
trends of strong temptations to distort scientific research for vested
interests, and thereby using science communication for their own purposes,
instead of common good.
3. In the recent past, a number
of science communicators and researchers across the world, have faced
increasing violent interference.
4. On the other hand, they have also
faced, increasing pressure to work for the promotion of techno-scientific
innovations rather than the scientific debate.
5. The interference comes from at
least three different sources; the state, the corporate sector and the
religio-fundamentalist and other undemocratic social forces operating within
specific cultures. The degree of uncalled for interference varies a great deal
across the globe and sometimes leads to violent acts.
6. The recent past has witnessed
the re-emergence, widespread expansion and consolidation of variants of
religio-fundamentalist forces. These forces have become increasingly
intolerant. The process has a direct impact on the propagation of scientific
7. Propagation of science in any
society cannot be delinked from the freedom of enquiry, freedom of expression
and free exchange of thoughts. In order to propagate science it is imperative
to ensure a secured atmosphere for exercising these sovereignties. It is also
noted with concern that the spaces for exercising freedoms are shrinking in
both the developed and developing countries.
8. Societies, which for long were
considered to be a safe haven for scientists and science communicators, have
witnessed today the re-emergence of science-sceptical beliefs and manipulation
of cynical attitudes.
Consequently, we resolve the
• We pay our deep respect and
homage to those who have laid their lives in the service of propagating
• We urge the governments to
create a congenial atmosphere for freely sharing the outcome of scientific
• We urge the governments to
provide a secured environment for free exchange of ideas and tolerance towards
open debate on scientific issues, even when these are socially, culturally,
economically or politically uncomfortable.
• We shall in future place on
record all incidents of interference, attacks, physical or otherwise, on those
individuals and organisations who propagate science.
• We also resolve to use every
available forum for spreading freedom of scientific consciousness and thereby
resist the forces that inhibit propagation of the spirit of enquiry.
• We will undertake and encourage
colleagues and scholars to scrutinise sources, nature and methods of agencies
which interfere with the spirit of inquiry and sharing of knowledge.
• We will treat the public domain
as a free and democratic space where the uncensored intellectual exchange of
ideas must be promoted and supported.
Resolution moved by: Patrick
Baranger, Martin Bauer, Hester du Plessis, Joëlle le Marec, Gauhar Raza and Bernard