Artist-scientist collaboration in developing public understanding
Prof. Ramsden and Freeman share a desire to convey scientific information in a non-traditional and “non-scientific” way. Through conversation, discussion and demonstration they aim to capture fundamental processes, issues and techniques within and surrounding nanotechnology and work out how to impart these to the layman. As a foil for Prof. Ramsden, the artist will provide critical feedback on the dense scientific language used to explain complex therories, and in return Prof. Ramsden will enable access and openness to his group, its facilities, and his wider circle of colleagues.
The collaborators have organized a series of four on-site talks open to staff, students and the public, inviting practitioners working in the areas of art and science to discuss their work. The talks will have the character of a debate, with active participation from the public encouraged. These will take place in the new Health building and will encourage interaction between artists and scientists and engineers stimulating discussion surrounding public awareness.
“Cranfield University is unique. It is a postgraduate research-intensive university, in which teaching and research are integrated and undertaken in an environment and culture of innovation and applicability.” The University nevertheless lacks a framework for enabling its students to develop skills in public understanding and knowledge sharing, despite its huge and active store of technical expertise. When in residence the artist will endeavour to involve students from different Schools in talks that promote open discourse and try to impress the importance of openness and information sharing with the public and those from other disciplines.
Cranfield University has a dense concentration of some of Europe’s best scientists and technologists. One aim of the collaboration is to try to foster an atmosphere of informal knowledge sharing and community amongst the disparate departments involved in nanotechnology, in order for a truly broad and representative view of nanotechnology to be grasped. Crucially, Professor Ramsden is already working with colleagues in all the Schools of Cranfield University. This vision must be grasped in order to effectively translate and convey it to the public. A special attraction is the recently founded division of Cranfield Health, which aims to realize a holistic vision of health, ranging from molecular medicine to hospital management.
Clear and creative science communication has an important place in the current climate of information overload, and it is key for the experts of tomorrow to understand the value of public dissemination of knowledge. The collaborators will be trying to initiate this cultural change.