The inaugural Science Café at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) was launched spring semester, 2017. Sponsored by SEBS Academic Programs, Cook Campus Dean, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, and the Department of Human Ecology, the cafés are held the first Tuesday of the month during the semester. A global phenomena, Science Cafés are events that take place in casual settings such as pubs and coffeehouses, are open to everyone, and feature an engaging conversation with scientists about a particular topic.
There were 45 students–undergrads, graduate students, postdocs–and faculty at the first Science Café at SEBS, held on February 7, at in the Atrium of the Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health. Professor of Nutritional Sciences and Cook Campus dean Judy Storch welcomed participants and introduced the discussion leader, professor Mary Nucci of the Department of Human Ecology, who lead a discussion about “Fake Science News.”
Storch commented, “Mary Nucci started it off with a thought provoking presentation about how Science News is communicated–the good the bad and the really bad. The group then engaged in a back and forth discussion that included many ideas for how we, as scientists, can bring the excitement and importance of knowledge as it is being discovered, to the public.”
The exchange of thoughts on the subject also brought awareness that the issue can raise more questions than answers. Students readily recognized the role social media plays in the propagation of fake news and that the proliferation can be exacerbated by emotions.
The next Science Café will be held on March 7 from 10–11:30 a.m. in the IFNH Atrium. Abigail Porter from the Department of Environmental Sciences, will lead a discussion on “Drugs in the Environment.” Coffee and snacks will be provided. Students, faculty, staff, and class groups are all invited to participate.
Upcoming Science Cafés:
April 4, 10–11:30 a.m.
Larry Katz, Department of Animal Sciences
“Did Humans Domesticate Animals or Did Animals Domesticate Humans?”
May 2, 10–11:30 a.m.
Mark Robson, Department of Plant Biology
“How Are We Going to Feed Nine Billion People in 2050?”
Note: Students attending the May 2 Science Cafe can be entered into a drawing to win one of three $50 prize packages, and participate in an essay contest on Professor Robson’s presentation. The winning essay will receive a $100 prize package. Details will be provided at the Science Cafe on May 2.