How to engage people in complex challenges

My LinkedIn post of 11 January 2022

How can we engage more people in the complex challenges facing the world?

I recently finished watching the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, led by Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, on viruses and how science is fighting back. They were brilliant: interactive, entertaining, mind-expanding. There are surely lessons here for involving more people in tackling climate change and social injustice.

The (masked) audience were young people and there wasn’t a dull moment: on-stage experiments with volunteers, mock viruses falling through the air, a locked door with a spike protein key, an umbrella and a bucket of gunge, sniffer dogs and llamas.

We learned how much snot an adult produces in a day, how the puss of a milkmaid was central to developing the first vaccine, and how long viral genetic codes are.

Beyond the virus lessons, there were other messages – about diversity in modern science (expert speakers included Katie Ewer, Helen Lee, Ravi Gupta, Claire Guest, Catherine Noakes, Julia Gog, Teresa Lambe and Sharon Peacock), and about how breakthroughs don’t just happen. The rapid advances in fighting Covid-19 would not have been possible without decades of intense research and teamwork involving many scientists in different specialisms around the world.

With a deeper understanding of the facts, it’s easier to know how to act. I highly recommend watching this creative, inclusive series on BBC Four.

What inspires you here?

What could you add to your own communication of complex issues?

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