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Science Communication: enhancing Public Understanding

SIDRA SAIF IBD: A two days’ workshop titled “COMSTECH-Technology Times International Workshop on Science Communication: Enhancing Public Understanding” was held here at COMSTECH Headquarters, to train human resources in the field of Science Communication to popularize science in the society. 
The Chief Guest Fazal Abbas Mekan, Federal Secretary for Ministry of Science and Technology said, “science communication is the key to the real treasure of the scientific knowledge, by virtue of which scientific knowledge and concepts could be carried to the public. Thus, the public is benefited with the new advancements in science and technology and is able to fight against hunger, drought, diseases, several other social and economic problems.”
Dr Shaukat Hameed, Coordinator General COMSTECH elaborated at the occasion, “due to lack of interest of scientific knowledge and its slow propagation and penetration amongst larger number of population in OIC member countries especially in Pakistan; people are unable to know the advancements in science and technology. The more alarming fact is that science interest is fizzling out more even in science students. In order to diffuse this situation, immediate measures must be taken”.
Sayyed Paras Ali, Editor Weekly Technology Times while explaining the objectives of workshop told the participants that Science Communication is proportional to socio-economic development and is an exponential variable to delineate brainteasers of nature. It helps students as well as common people to understand causes of various tribulations of society pertaining to health, water security, food security etc. and make counter strategy to overcome those problems thus resulting in sustainable socio-economic, cultural, and environmental development of the country.
The Workshop is designed to provide professional development opportunities for people working in environments where science and research outcomes need to be made accessible to the general public and to science policy audiences.
Fabio Turone, Research Fellow, Knight Science Journalism Program, MIT Chief told in his keynote presentation that it is important for scientists to be able to communicate to non-scientists, which is a difficult skill that many practicing scientists lack, likely due to the combination of increased specialization over time and the absence of formal training in science communication.
This was a two-day workshop comprise of 6 sessions, discussing role of media for science popularization and advocacy. 
The session chairs, speakers, and participants concluded that scientists play a critical part in transmitting information to journalists and ultimately the public. But at the same time, it is difficult for scientists to communicate effectively with a diversity of audiences and most scientists do not receive formal training in science communication.
Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Physics, Forman Christian College, Lahore briefed that the effects science communication can have on an audience are diverse. Communicators can make people more aware of certain issues for public understandings of science and technology which can make public understand scientific matters; and it is even possible to engage people to the extent that they are willing to take action.
The other speakers of the workshop were: Dr. Ehsan Masood, Editor, Research Fortnight, UK; Ms Knvul Safia Sheikh, Freelance Science Journalist, New York; Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman, PSF; Dr. Anwar ul Hassan Gillani, Chairman, PCST; Dr. Ghulam Rasul, DG, PMD; Dr. Zabta Khan Shinwari, Professor and Chairperson Biotechnology Department, QAU; Dr. Hamid Saleem, IST; Dr. M. Sabieh Anwar, LUMS; Dr. Imran Hashmi, IESE, NUST; Dr. M. Zafar Iqbal, Chairman Department of Media & Communications Studies, IIU; Dr. Shafqat Kakakhel, SDPI; Zeeshan Ahmad Siddiqui, NCP; Kamran Akhter, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Aleem Ahmed, Chief Editor, Monthly Global Science; Rina Saeed Khan, Environmental Journalist; Khalid Rehman, Science Journalist; Abdullah Farooqi, BBC World Service; and Saleem Rafik, President OSFP. 

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