“Welcome. Relax. Take a coffee or a beer. The discussion will start in a moment, but don’t be too impatient. We are here to explore, discover and enjoy science and technology”.
A science café is a discussion about some topic in science and technology as scientists do. This does not mean drawing formulas on napkins, but discussing with experts all on the same ground, where the public, and not the experts, are at home. The purpose of the science café is that of demythologising science communication, removing it from the cathedra and bringing it into everyday life. Often, we consider science communication as a one-way flow of information, from experts to “ordinary” people who simply have to absorb some concept. It is true that much of the technical knowledge necessary to take an informed decision is not everyone’s heritage, and that we often need specific skills to understand advanced topics, but it is also true that the scientific method requires that the participants to the discussion be on equal level, without exceptions. Thus, the concept of science café has to do with participation as well as with science.
A science café is not a conference. Experts introduce themselves and the theme of the discussion, but this part is limited to a minimum. The “engine” of the meeting is always the questions, actions and discussions of the public, animated by a moderator. As D. Dallas, the inventor of modern science cafés says, it is very important to choose a correct venue: “A unique characteristic of the Café Scientifique* is that changing the venue changes the tone and nature of the discussion. In a lecture theater you expect to be lectured to, in a café-bar you expect to discuss scientific matters on equal terms, and that is what people like”.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Science is ready, serve it! Dissemination of Science through Science Café

Giovanna Pacini   ssociation Caffè-Scienza and Interdepartmental Centre for the Study of Complex Dynamics (CSDC), University of Florence

Franco Bagnol   ssociation Caffè-Scienza and Interdepartmental Centre for the Study of Complex Dynamics (CSDC), University of Florence

Cinzia Belmonte   Association formaScienza, Rome

Tommaso Castellani   Association formaSci- enza and Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies, National Research Council, Rome

“Welcome. Relax. Take a coffee or a beer. The discussion will start in a moment, but don’t be too impatient. We are here to explore, discover and enjoy science and technology”.
A science café is a discussion about some topic in science and technology as scientists do. This does not mean drawing formulas on napkins, but discussing with experts all on the same ground, where the public, and not the experts, are at home. The purpose of the science café is that of demythologising science communication, removing it from the cathedra and bringing it into everyday life. Often, we consider science communication as a one-way flow of information, from experts to “ordinary” people who simply have to absorb some concept. It is true that much of the technical knowledge necessary to take an informed decision is not everyone’s heritage, and that we often need specific skills to understand advanced topics, but it is also true that the scientific method requires that the participants to the discussion be on equal level, without exceptions. Thus, the concept of science café has to do with participation as well as with science.
A science café is not a conference. Experts introduce themselves and the theme of the discussion, but this part is limited to a minimum. The “engine” of the meeting is always the questions, actions and discussions of the public, animated by a moderator. As D. Dallas, the inventor of modern science cafés says, it is very important to choose a correct venue: “A unique characteristic of the Café Scientifique* is that changing the venue changes the tone and nature of the discussion. In a lecture theater you expect to be lectured to, in a café-bar you expect to discuss scientific matters on equal terms, and that is what people like”.

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