Overview of the project

Project title: Communication and (social) media skills for young astronomers
Project leader: Ms. Marina Joubert

Following the favourable outcome of the SKA bid for Africa, there is a new focus on astronomy across the continent. This is further supported by the development of the African VLBI Network (AVN). Newly established SKA SA research chairs in South Africa are attracting postgraduate students from all over Africa, while some are already involved in post-doctoral work and early career research. Astronomy courses are also taking off in SKA partner countries across Africa. As in other fields of science, astronomers are under pressure to sustain public and political support for their discipline. Instead of asking whether they have the time or interest to engage public and policy audiences in their word, scientists are now realising that they can no longer afford NOT do to it. It is therefore essential to equip young astronomers with the confidence and skills to engage a wide range of audiences, from young children to senior politicians, successfully. They will play a key role in sharing the inspirational value of astronomy and the bright future of this field with the rest of the continent’s people and youth.

This project will develop a communication guide focused on the needs of scientists and engineers who are involved in public communication of astronomy, astrophysics and related engineering fields. The guide will contain practical guidelines/tips and resources on:
• Delivering engaging popular talks (“Famelab” style)
• How to write popular articles and blogs
• How to prepare for and conduct radio, television and print media interviews
• How to package their research for maximum media appeal
• How to use a range of social media platforms to engage new audiences
• How to plan and evaluate science communication (and public engagement)