Propose a "Science and Science Writing" session for the CASW New Horizons in Science portion of ScienceWriters2020.
Science writers are invited to propose a special session to discuss challenges or issues in covering science. Drawing on current topics in the news, "S+SW" sessions are intended as case studies of issues at the intersection of science, communication, and journalism. They also are intended to provide opportunities for open conversation between scientists and writers on topics that are controversial, ethically fraught, or otherwise difficult. Up to three selected sessions will be interwoven with the New Horizons in Science presentations.
- Each S+SW session will be 75 minutes in duration. Proposals should include an agenda that shows how that time will be allotted among the speakers and used to include audience engagement via Q&A or other means. Feel free to get creative with the format.
- Proposed presenters should include both scientists and science writers/communicators. Diverse—even divergent—views among speakers will make for a more engaging and fruitful discussion. Include affiliations, links to personal websites, and notes about the distinct perspective each speaker will bring to the topic. Indicate whether speakers have been contacted and have agreed to participate.
- Submissions should explain why the topic proposed is both interesting and timely in its own right and why it will serve as a case study that has broader relevance for science writers covering other fields.
- S+SW session organizers will be expected to moderate their session or to propose a moderator, who will be responsible for holding speakers to their allotted times. New Horizons Program Director Wayt Gibbs will work with session moderators and speakers to refine the session plan, make necessary arrangements, and manage the session. CASW will reimburse session participants for selected travel costs if they do not have other support for their travel to ScienceWriters2020.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of topics are appropriate?
- Those in which scientists are muzzled or reluctant to speak.
- Those in which both writers and scientists must navigate social, cultural, political and/or economic minefields.
- Topics, including those involving misbehavior among researchers or their employers, that bring scientists, institutions, and journalists into frequent conflict.
- Areas in which scientists, institutions or other actors have “spun” coverage by manipulating journalists or public opinion.
- A recent egg-on-face case, where science writers or the media in general missed a big story, got it wrong, or failed to critically examine the evidence.
What kinds of proposals are not appropriate?
- Discussions of craft suitable for the NASW workshop program.
- Sessions intended to draw attention to an "undercovered area of science," especially those submitted on behalf of organizations seeking visibility for their area of interest.
- Proposals that do not draw on current science.
What are examples of previous "Science and Science Writing" sessions?
- ScienceWriters2019: Dan Vergano organized and moderated “The #CRISPRtwins story,” a S+SW session focusing on the role of scientists and journalists in the breaking science story of 2018: a Chinese researcher's claim that he had used CRISPR gene-editing technology to change the DNA of human embryos with the aim of making them immune to HIV. Sharing the stage with Vergano were Antonio Regalado, who broke the story in MIT Technology Review, and Marilynn Marchione, who covered it the same day for AP. Geneticist Kiran Musunuru of Penn’s School of Medicine provided insights into how scientists in the field responded to this massive ethical breach and the firestorm of criticism and concern that it sparked.
- ScienceWriters2018: Marilynn Marchione moderated a discussion on "The Wild West of stem cell therapy" on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the isolation of human embryonic stem cells. The session brought together a scientist-blogger, an FDA regulator, a public information officer (session co-organizer Terry Devitt), and a reporter to discuss policy controversies and challenges for PIOs and journalists through both a current-events and a historical lens.
- ScienceWriters2016: Deborah Blum moderated a panel called "The next Flint crisis (and why there will be one." A resident of Flint, Michigan added an important dimension to this powerful session.
Directions for submitting
S+SW proposals should be uploaded to this site by 11:59PM PT March 1. Please limit the description of the session and proposed speakers to 300 words.
A joint NASW-CASW panel will review these proposals and notify you of a decision by May 15.