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BIG's Inclusive Recovery Roundtable

During the July 2020 BIG Event, which was held online, we ran a roundtable session to discuss Inclusive Recovery of the science communication sector. This session was open to members and non-members, and the Executive Committee also invited specific individuals and organisations.


The problems we were trying to address included (from the event blurb):

How do we ensure our sector’s recovery from COVID-19 is inclusive? How can we ensure our work engages with the audiences most affected by the pandemic? How do we make sure that staff and volunteers who have been hit the hardest aren’t left behind?  How can we take all the progress towards remote access events and build on it going forward?


The session began with a short talk from Dr Emily Dawson, Lecturer in Science Communication in the UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies. Her work focuses on how people learn about and engage with science, with an emphasis on equity and social justice. Emily’s talk was titled ‘Normal ≠ OK: A provocation’ and covered what inclusive recovery could look like, how being able to work or volunteer in science communication is marked by privilege and how this is exacerbated in leadership roles, the impact of COVID, how inclusion can be in service of different competing purposes and more.


After Emily’s talk participants discussed the topic in break out rooms. They were asked to each come up with two pledges:

     A pledge to contribute to an inclusive recovery for their colleagues

     A pledge to contribute to an inclusive recovery for their audiences or public partners


As the national STEM Communicator’s Network, BIG has a role to play in taking this work forward. We invited participants to suggest ways BIG could support its members (and the broader sector) to contribute to the inclusive recovery of our community. We also asked participants to share useful resources.

My pledge to contribute to an inclusive recovery for my colleagues...

There were many broad pledges to embed equity and inclusivity in processes and planning, and to speak out for colleagues and call out bad behaviour.


Other pledges included (some paraphrased and consolidated):

     Be vocal about keeping remote meetings / events as an option going forward (With caveat that remote events / events are more accessible for some and less for others)

     Challenge structures that perpetuate unpaid work, underpaid work, insecure jobs

     Challenge funders to provide longer term support

     Pay PhD students for their time in PE events, some students, particularly those from overseas, may be using their stipend and part-time work to fund family members back home now or in future (Note that there may be visa restrictions with this)

     Implement mandatory training for staff to improve EDI awareness, both from perspective of identifying it in others and accepting being corrected ourselves

     Promoting sci-comm socials to wider audiences to build bigger and more diverse networks

     Include an EDI statement in your organisations vision/corporate strategy

My pledge to contribute to an inclusive recovery for my audiences and public partners…

There were fewer overarching themes for these pledges. Pledges included (some paraphrased and consolidated):


     Take this period of change as an opportunity to adapt a long-standing programme to be much more inclusive and have the opportunity to reach more people

     Prioritise platforming individuals from underrepresented groups, and drawing from a more diverse set of role models. Others added:

     Avoid 'who do we know that could do this well' and look outside your existing networks

     And making sure it's not the same person from the underrepresented group every time!

     Make sure that our media releases show the full diverse teams involved in discoveries not just the (often white male) principle investigator

     Take this as an opportunity to change how and where content is delivered to audiences.

     Work on bringing the content to the audience rather than relying on the audience seeking out my content

     Actively seeking out and asking underrepresented groups what reduces their engagement and what changes could help e.g. engage in different settings, use different formats to reach them out etc

     Pushing for decolonising STEM curriculums in my institutions

The original pledges can be seen here InclusiveRecoveryPadlet.pdf

Actions BIG could take to support members and others

Some of these have been directly taken from the actions suggested during the session on the Padlet (link above). Others have come from conversations during the session.


BIG only works because of the enthusiasm and commitment of its members. The volunteer Executive Committee steer the direction of BIG, on behalf of its members but can't make everything happen. The actions suggested below can only happen if we all contribute. If you'd like to get involved please complete the form at the bottom of this section.



Support we’d need

A collection of case studies of how change has taken place in organisations

   A template case study or examples of case studies used by other organisations

   Case studies

Provide spaces for differentiated support e.g. for freelancers, those working for universities, smaller companies etc.

     Representatives from different areas to lead groups. We can provide admin help with organising meetings etc.

     Write ups on discussions to share with the membership

Groups for those who are racialized, disabled, LGBTQ+ etc. 

     Is this something individuals from those groups want?

     If so, we need individuals to lead them - we can provide admin help with organising meetings etc.

An award for inclusive practice

     We would need funding for this - let us know if you have any ideas


Suggested actions the BIG executive committee can take:

     Contact Museum Detox about their White Privilege Clinic - BIG will look into this for the next BIG event or a Skills Day

     Collate any actions taken across the sector that remove inclusive practice (because of COVID regulations or funding cuts) so we have a record when we go back to ‘normal - you can let us know about these actions here:

     Mentoring scheme - BIG are developing a mentoring scheme

     Help to promote/signal boost a wide range/list of speakers, presenters and trainers to help those looking for someone to speak at an event make better decisions and not just rely on existing networks - BIG are looking into whether the website can be used for this as we already have a ‘find a contractor’ section of the website’ 

     Look into the impact of volunteering on the sector - we have started conversations with other individuals and organisations about how to take this further. If you would like to get involved, please email Helen Featherstone (



Related actions the BIG executive committee are involved with

     Over the last year we have been part of an advisory group for the British Science Association who have been developing a programme to diversify the people coming into our sector. A proposal has been developed and is currently under consideration by the National Forum for Public Engagement with STEM.

     The committee are proactively joining in national conversations about science communication and public engagement and we use these opportunities to advocate for issues such as the need for funding that can be used to reach underrepresented audiences.



Equity, Exclusion and Everyday Science Learning: Zine Edition

Zine version of Emily Dawson’s book, illustrated by Sophie Wang


The Change Canvas

A visual framework to help make changes by Diversily


Equity and inclusion - Spokes Collection

Collection of articles exploring equity and inclusion in Ecsite’s Spokes Magazine


Pass the mic

List of women of colour commentators in Scotland


The ASDC Inclusion Wheel

Tool to guide strategic discussion for science centre practitioners


SEN in STEM Network

Linked-In based network run by the Lightyear Foundation


Covid-related resources

Equity & Inclusion: An inclusive response to the corona crisis

Recording of an Ecsite webinar


Responding to the pandemic: a social justice perspective

Article by Emily Dawson and Barbara Streicher in Ecsite’s Spokes Magazine


Left in Lockdown

Report by the Disabled Children’s Partnership


Racial justice

Black Lives Matter Charter for the UK heritage sector

Culture&’s recommended actions for the heritage sector


Article on anti-racist science communication

Article written by Elizabeth Rasekoala and Lindy Orthia on the LSE blog


The Anti-Racist Educator

A Scotland based collective of educational stakeholders


Tackling racial harassment: Universities challenged

Report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission


Shut down STEM

Lots of anti-racism resources


Museum Detox

Network for people of colour working in museums, galleries, libraries, archives and the heritage sector


If you would like to add more resources to this list please send them to us on


Other comments

      While the focus of the event was on inclusive recovery from the pandemic, we were reminded that the climate emergency continues and that this shouldn't be overlooked.


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