IntroductionThe sciSCREEN film debates model of public engagement stopped in at Cheltenham and Cardiff Science Festivals
This summer Cardiff sciSCREEN went on the road. In June and July, events were organised at two of the UK’s summer science festivals; a full sciSCREEN event discussing the film Take Shelter at the prestigious Cheltenham Science Festival, and a sciSCREEN event aimed at children and young people introducing Ice Age 4: Continental Drift at the inaugural Cardiff Science Festival.
On Saturday 16th June, Cardiff sciSCREEN organised a screening and discussion of Take Shelter at the Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham. Sponsored by the Medical Research Council, four academics spoke to the award-winning film, directed by Jeff Nichols and starring Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain. Dr Ian Jones (MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, Cardiff University), Dr Katie Featherstone (Cardiff School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies) and Dr Keir Waddington (Cardiff School of History, Archaeology and Religion), along with Emeritus Professor John Thornes (School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Studies, University of Birmingham) presented short talks and participated in a panel discussion exploring some of the themes and ideas raised within the film: the nature of psychosis, the history of delusions and premonitions, family surveillance and genetic communication, and the power of storms. The event attracted an audience of 65 people and prompted a lively 45 minute discussion chaired by Dr Jamie Lewis (MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics). On Sunday 15th July, Cardiff sciSCREEN organised an event at the Odeon cinema, Cardiff Bay. Professor Mike Bruford (School of Biosciences, Cardiff University) presented an informative and engaging talk about the film Ice Age 4: Continental Drift. Mike's 15 minute talk was aimed at children and young people, and covered questions such as; 'What is continental drift?' 'When were the ice ages?' 'What sort of animals were the main characters in Ice Age 4, and when did they live?' And; 'What on Earth is Scrat?'
Dr Andrew Bartlett (Cesagen), who organised the talk, said of the event: "Mike was excellent, his talk and slides were thoroughly engaging pitched perfectly for a young audience. I also learnt a few interesting facts myself".
Cardiff sciSCREEN was founded and is organised by the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, the ESRC Centre for the Social and Economic Aspects of Genomics, the School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies and the Wales Gene Park. It is a cross-disciplinary programme that promotes the engagement of the public with science and the academy. Using special showings of new release films, sciSCREEN uses local academic expertise to discuss contemporary developments in science in an understandable and entertaining way, facilitating debate on the wider social and cultural implications of these advances. These discussions draw on a range of disciplinary perspectives and the broad repertoire of themes found within contemporary cinema. It runs regular events with Chapter Arts Centre and details of previous screenings and 55 essays speakers have produced can be found on the Cardiff sciSCREEN blog and website.