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Science Communication & Society

Student Conference

8th National Science Communication Student Conference - 24 March 2017 in Leiden

Myths and misconceptions in Science Communication

Newspapers, journals, digital news websites, social media and television are the general public’s primary access to scientific information. However, not all new discoveries are published in the news. Did you know that more than seventy scientific studies found that smoking is associated with lower risk of (developing) Parkinson’s disease? On the other hand, sometimes ‘lies’ sneak up in the public’s opinion. Recently, several media have fed myths, such as denial of climate change and vaccination fears. Public opinion and politics seem to be influenced by the media, with possibly dramatic consequences for future human safety and health. What can we do, as science communicators, to form a bridge between science and the public opinion?

Understanding pieces of the science communication puzzle

At the National Science Communication Student Conference, you have the opportunity to learn about Science Communication from the most knowledgeable experts, such as Pedro de Bruyckere, professor Jos van den Broek and professor Bas Haring. The event will be held in Leiden on Friday March 24th 2017. The ingredients are lectures, workshops, speed dates and casual drinks (‘borrel’). The main goals are meeting your fellow science communication students, getting inspired, broadening knowledge and skills and networking for inspiration and job opportunities.

Registration form

The Conference Programme

Here you can find the map of the conference location (Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum). The location is at a five minute walking distance from Leiden Central  station.

10.15h‑10.45h Walk-in at LUMC Building 3 foyer. Lecture room opens at 10.40h.
10.45h‑11.15h Interactive welcome presentation and awarding of the best science myth (contest)
11.15h‑12.00h Keynote lecture by educational scientist and myth debunker Pedro de Bruyckere
12.00h‑12.15h Questions for the lecturer
12.15h‑13.15h Lunch in the foyer
Workshops round 1
  1. Dutch and Foreign Science Journalism Writing (Lisette van Hulst)
  2. Myth Debunking (Annette Ter Haar and Maarten-Harm Verburg)
  3. Unravel the central science communication myth (Michel van Baal and Roy Meijer, Dutch workshop)
  4. Informal Science Education workshop: Visit the Anatomical museum
Workshops round 2
  1. Speed date experts, companies, freelancers and alumni
  2. Informal Science Education workshop: Visit the Anatomical museum
  3. Visual Communication (Jos van den Broek)
  4. Media training (Michel van Baal and Roy Meijer, Dutch workshop)
15.00h‑15.30h Coffee break in the foyer
15.30h‑16.15h Keynote lecture by Frans van Lunteren (professor of history of the natural sciences) and  Bas Haring (professor public understanding of science/tv personality)
16:15h‑16.35h Questions for the lecturers
16.35h‑16.40h Closing session
16.45h‑18.30h Drinks and networking
After 18.30h Optional social activity in Leiden

For whom?

The conference is open and free of charge for science communication students (future and current), alumni and teachers from all Dutch universities. The keynote lectures are open for everyone who is interested (no entrance fee). If you would like to attend one or both lectures, please also fill out the registration form.

Pedro De Bruyckere

Keynote lecture: Pedro de Bruyckere

Pedro De Bruyckere is familiar with all kinds of myths regarding learning methods and intelligence differences between boys and girls. Pedro is a Flemish education researcher. He is an expert on this topic and ready to debunk misconceptions regarding young people in education and social environments. Together with Casper Hulshof he wrote a Dutch book about educational myths: “Jongens zijn slimmer dan meisjes en andere mythes over leren en onderwijs” (“Urban myths about learning and education”). In 2011, Pedro won an award for the best lecturer in educational topics. An inspirational and entertaining talk is guaranteed from this excellent speaker.

Bas Haring; Frans van Lunteren

Keynote lecture by prof. Frans van Lunteren and prof. Bas Haring

Bas Haring is a professor in ‘public understanding of science’ and became famous with his role in the television show ‘Proefkonijnen’. He teaches at Leiden University, writes books and columns, gives lectures and participates in tv shows. In 2016 he won the ‘Duidelijketaalprijs’ for his talent to clearly present science to a broad public. From his experience in the field, he can share knowledge about science communication to prevent misconceptions.

Professor Frans van Lunteren is very knowledgeable about historical science myths and makes us aware of our own gaps in science knowledge. Expect from this lecture interesting viewpoints that will broaden your vision. 





Workshop round 1: Dutch and Foreign Science Journalism Writing with Lisette van Hulst

Lisette van Hulst will talk about and show how you can present your work in an effective manner. What is the difference between Dutch and English journalism writing? How do you keep your grammar straight and write readable sentences for the most wonderful English ‘flow’? In the end, you will learn how to avoid misconceptions by good writing.

Workshop round 1: Myth Debunking with Annette Ter Haar and Maarten-Harm Verburg

Annette Ter Haar is chair of SciCom NL. SciCom NL is the Dutch platform for science communication professionals to share expertise, organise events, communicate with the government and perform science communication research. Although science communication practices are used to explain scientific topics to a broad audience, additional skills may be needed to dispel myths. Ever wondered how to successfully increase scientific awareness and fight misconceptions in your own social circles? Annette will provide tools to make you an effective myth debunker in the workshop ‘Myth Debunking’.

Workshop round 1: Unravel the central science communication myth (Michel van Baal and Roy Meijer, Dutch workshop)

Are you curious about the role of journalism, scientists and the public in science communication? Is science communication what it pretends to be? Find out what the central myth of science communication is by discussing the role of different parties in a hot news topic: ‘Are ‘kunstgraskorrels’ causing cancer?’ Michel van Baal and Roy Meijer give the workshop. Both are science communication specialists at Technical University Delft.

Workshop round 1: Informal science education

Museums play an important role in science education. In this workshop you will visit the anatomical museum of the LUMC, where you can admire anatomical (human) preparations and models. Sometimes a little bit frightening, but above all a fascinating experience.

Workshop round 2: Speed date with science communication professionals

Network with companies, experts, freelancers and alumni in the Science Communication field! You may even get in touch with your future boss. Professionals from museums, newspapers and Science Communication organisations will attend the speeddate workshop, for example David Redeker (spokesperson NOVA, freelance communication advisor, science journalist and secretary of Platform Wetenschapscommunicatie) and Welmoet Damsma (science education developer and educator at Naturalis Biodiversity Center).

Workshop round 2: Informal science education

Museums play an important role in science education. In this workshop you will visit the anatomical museum of the LUMC, where you can admire anatomical (human) preparations and models. Sometimes a little bit frightening, but above all a fascinating experience.

Workshop round 2: Visual communication with professor Jos van den Broek

Learn the concepts behind visual communication from a true expert. With a general set of guidelines for visual communication, Jos teaches you how to avoid misconceptions. At the end of the workshop, you will notice signs and other hidden visual communication symbols that almost nobody is aware of.

Workshop round 2: Media training (Michel van Baal and Roy Meijer, Dutch workshop)

Ever wondered how to respond to a cheeky interviewer? Michel van Baal and Roy Meijer provide the chance to learn how to handle media effectively. Michel van Baal and Roy Meijer have a lot of experience with giving media trainings. Together with the audience, they will demonstrate interviews with a cheeky interviewer in real life. In this workshop you become acquainted with both theory and practice of responding well during an interview. The central myth of what an interview looks like, but in reality is, will become clear during the workshop.


Have you ever been astounded by a total misconception? We are curious about your experiences regarding myths and misconceptions from a news website, your family members, politicians or any other source. Send in a crazy myth you have heard by filling out the registration form and win a nice prize at the conference!