Over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas today, and this is expected to hit 60% by 2030(1). It is increasingly understood that people residing in urban areas often lose their connection with nature, because they no longer interact with the natural world on a daily basis. Reconnecting people with nature is key in incentivising them to care about, and conserve, the natural world(2). Additionally, time spent in nature has been shown to improve people’s mental health(3), enhancing well being. Spreading the word about the natural world and reaching diverse communities requires employing diverse communication strategies and platforms. For example, storytelling has been shown to be an effective approach for communicating about scientific topics with non-specialists(4). Alongside this, art, literature, and poetry have unique places in sharing scientific information and knowledge(5), as well as inspiring an interest in the natural world. Increasingly, members of the public are also accessing news and information through social media platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook), which are increasingly important in both message transmission and getting a message reported by the mainstream media(6). Building on these ideas, our symposium brings together science communicators from a wide variety of fields: from scientists to artists to professional science communicators to share their experiences and approaches to connecting with the public about science and the natural world. Our symposium will demonstrate the diversity of platforms used for communicating about science, conservation, and nature, and aims to inspire those working in the field of conservation to build their own strategy for connecting people with nature.
(1) The World’s Cities in 2016 (2016) United Nations
(2) Assaf Shwartz , Alix Cosquer , Alexandre Jaillon, Armony Piron, Romain Julliard, Richard Raymond, Laurent Simon, Anne-Caroline and Prévot-Julliard (2012) Urban Biodiversity, City-Dwellers and Conservation: How Does an Outdoor Activity Day Affect the Human-Nature Relationship?, PLOSOne
(3) Gregory N. Bratman, J. Paul Hamilton, Gretchen C. Daily (2012) The impacts of nature experience on human cognitive function and mental health, The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
(4) Michael F. Dahlstrom (2014) Using narratives and storytelling to communicate science with nonexpert audiences, PNAS
(5) João Carlos Paiva, Carla Morais, and Luciano Moreira (2013) Specialization, Chemistry, and Poetry: Challenging Chemistry Boundaries, Journal of Chemical Education
(6) 2017 Digital News Report (2017) Reuters