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International workshop aims to boost public engagement work in developing countries
Date:11/26/2008

Public engagement practitioners from across the world are to share skills and experiences at an innovative conference to be held in South Africa, organised by the Wellcome Trust.

The conference entitled "Science and community: engage to empower" will take place from 2-5 December at the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, KwaZulu-Natal. It will bring together practitioners working in the fields of public engagement and communication of biomedical and health research.

The programme of activities and workshops will include interactive sessions on the theory and practice behind public engagement, as well as the ethics of involving communities. Hands-on sessions will look at how to equip researchers with science engagement and communication skills, and ways of building bridges between scientists and policymakers. Delegates will be able to explore the potential of science cafs, theatre and cultural events, science centres and science journalism as public engagement tools.

"This conference will be one of the first of its kind, with public engagement professionals from around the world coming together to share their knowledge," says Dr Bella Starling, who heads the Wellcome Trust's international public engagement programme. "Many of these practitioners will be working on their own, with only virtual communication with counterparts in other countries. Meeting face-to-face will enable us to develop a strong and dynamic network, leading to valuable improvements in the field."

"We look forward to welcoming public engagement experts from countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Brazil and many more to the Africa Centre," says Mbongiseni Buthelezi, Head of External Relations at the Africa Centre. "It will be fascinating to compare experiences of sharing science from such different parts of the developing world."

Resources from the workshops, including session reports, daily news updates and audio and video casts, will
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Contact: Craig Brierley
c.brierley@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7329
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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