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Science in the Making: the BBCs first engagement with engagement
Public Engagement with Research seminars
Dr Allan Jones

This event took place on 8th September 2014 at 1:15pm (12:15 GMT)
Knowledge Media Institute, Berrill Building, The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, MK7 6AA

In spring 1931, the BBC transmitted Science in the Making, a series of talks by scientists. Listeners were invited to report their observations of bird behaviour, the blossoming of trees, the nature of their dreams, the weather and the perception of sound. Some of these responses led to academic publications; others had no result. Nevertheless, the producer of the series, Mary Adams, considered a second series was merited for spring 1932. However, between the two series came the economic crisis of autumn 1931. The second series, devised by the economist and social reformer William Beveridge, was broadcast in a very different world from the first and ran into numerous problems, as Allan Jones will explain.

The historians of broadcasting Paddy Scannell and David Cardiff characterise the early years of broadcasting as a period of experimentation, in which the nature of broadcasting was established empirically. Styles of programming were adopted or discarded, as were speakers, topics and scheduling patterns. This seminar, which is based on original archival research, situates Science in the Making in the context of the developing practice of public service broadcasting and especially the contexts of adult education and science broadcasting. The historical approach to this topic brings eternal issues into sharper focus: what is being engaged with in ‘engagement’? whose interests are served? and how are cultural and social assumptions embedded?

The webcast was open to 1000 users

(65 minutes)

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