Today, the faces of BURECS’s Antarctic Ambassadors were posted on the side of Boston University’s Warren Towers! Besides making a cool profile picture and helping Natalie, Emma, and I score our 15 minutes of fame, this publicity represents one of the most important features of the BURECS program: communication.
The poster (pictured above with yours truly) lets students know that it is possible to become involved in even the most ambitious and exciting scientific projects as an undergraduate. It is an encouraging reminder that, like this year’s Ambassadors, any sufficiently motivated students can participate in important and thrilling work immediately upon entering college. That being said, on its own, the poster does relatively little to influence either students or the public. The poster is important because it works in tandem with the program’s broader efforts in the fields of public outreach and communication. Through a combination of web pages, live events, social media, and various other outlets (see links below), BURECS aims to show the scientific and societal significance of understanding Antarctica’s climatic history to the general public. We (Emelia, Natalie, and I) have also begun using Twitter to keep family, friends, and the public at large informed about BURECS’s growing list of achievements and ambitions. Research and science are extremely important components to the BURECS program, but they rely on communication and education to have any large-scale significance.
Understanding earth’s changing climate is among the most important scientific undertakings of the twenty-first century. It is essential that this significance be meaningfully communicated to large numbers of people. A broader awareness of the gravity of earth’s current climatic predicament among young scientists, thinkers, politicians, writers, and teachers can facilitate the passage of environmentally-conscious legislation, support the continuation and expansion of scientific research (like our work in Antarctica), and the enhance public concern in a meaningful way. These effects—direct results of effective communication of science—have the potential to dramatically improve earth’s environment and ecology. While it’s exciting to be featured on the side of one of the United States’ largest dormitories, I think it’s important to say that we aren’t just trying to generate positive PR. Instead, we are trying to communicate our work, and that of the BURECS program as a whole, to promote scientific literacy and to make some positive contribution to the public perception of science and climate change.
Here are related websites, some of which are cited in this blog: