Science CommunicationNature Marsilius Visiting Professorship

The visiting professorship for science communication, established in the winter term 2018/2019, is a joint initiative of the Veranstaltungsforum of Holtzbrinck Berlin, the Klaus Tschira Foundation (KTS) and Ruperto Carola.

With KTS funding, experts are invited to impart in a specialised programme what constitutes high-quality reporting on scientific work and findings. At the same time, they are encouraged to initiate a broad-based discussion on new forms of exchange between science and the public.

With the establishment of the professorship, the three partners hope to sharpen awareness of the growing importance of good science communication. The visiting professorship is intended to aid society in shaping the future through science in the face of increasingly complex research.

Springer Nature Visiting Professorship, signing the contract

A champion of excellent science communication and quality journalism is usually appointed as a guest professor each semester. Along with the furtherance these aims, young researchers are also trained to better communicate their research and findings to the public. The Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship is located at the Marsilius Kolleg of Ruperto Carola, which serves as a bridge between the scientific cultures in Heidelberg.


Eighth Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship: Fiona Fox

Fiona Fox is the chief executive and founding director of the Science Media Centre, which, since it was established in 2002, has become an indispensable resource for science journalists in the UK. She a has a degree in journalism and many years of experience working in media relations for high profile national organisations, including, amongst others, the Equal Opportunities Committee and CAFOD. She has received many accolades for her services to science, including an OBE, honorary fellowships of the Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal Society of Biology and the British Pharmacology Society. Fiona is also the author of Beyond the Hype: Inside Science’s Biggest Media Scandals from Climategate to Covid. 

Porträt: Fiona Fox


The 8th Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship will be launched with a fireside chat with colleagues from the Marsilius Kolleg on Monday, 3 June 2024.

Public Lecture

Toxic Public Debates? Why We Need Scientists to Engage in News More Than Ever

Wednesday, 16 June 2024, 7pm, The great Hall of the Old University

Fiona Fox’s public lecture will highlight the “hard news” side of science communication. Beyond the awe and wonder of science, and the quirky, fun stories that feature at the end of the news, lie the many controversial stories in the headlines like COVID, climate change, vaccines, assisted dying, and AI. And it’s more important than ever that scientists are prepared to engage with news journalists on them. Fiona will reflect on how this side of science communication has progressed over her 22 years in the field, charting the quiet revolution in the culture of science in which the best scientists have come to see engaging with the media and public as part of what a good scientist does. She will also caution against new barriers to scientists engaging with news, which may threaten to hamper the open communication of science to the wider public on some of the most important issues of our time.

Plakat: Nature Marsilius Gastprofessur - Fox - Öffentlicher Vortrag


Why and how scientists should engage with the media on scientific controversies?

Target group: PhD students, Postdocs, Professors 
Group 1: Fri., 07.06.2024, 10:00-14:00
Group 2: Tue., 11.06.2024, 10:00-14:00
INF 130.1, Seminar Room 01.105

Embark on an inspiring journey to discover the pivotal role of scientists in shaping media narratives on controversial scientific topics. "Bridging the Gap" is an invigorating two-part course designed to equip scientists with the knowledge and tools to effectively engage with the media, fostering more accurate and evidence-based coverage. This seminar extends a warm invitation to all intrigued by the potential of media engagement to transform public discourse on science. 

In the first section, participants will be guided through a captivating exploration of real-world examples, demonstrating the profound impact scientists can have by stepping into the media spotlight. Through a series of example-led presentations, attendees will witness firsthand the power of direct engagement in correcting misconceptions and steering the conversation towards a more informed and evidence-backed understanding.

Transitioning to the second half, the spotlight turns to the Science Media Centre (SMC) model, a beacon of independence and innovation in science communication. As the only press office that stands entirely apart from institutional affiliations, the SMC model champions an unbiased and unbridled approach to media relations. Participants will gain exclusive insights into the unique selling points of this model and why it represents a valuable blueprint for the future. Moreover, this section promises an open forum for debate, inviting critical perspectives and lively discussion on the model's merits and challenges.

Join us for this engaging seminar, where the spirit of inquiry meets the desire to make a difference. Whether you're a scientist eager to navigate the complexities of media engagement or simply passionate about the integrity of science communication, this course offers a warm, inclusive environment to learn, challenge, and inspire.

Should scientists advocate for particular policies and get involved in politics?

Target group: PhD students, Postdocs, Professors 
Group 1: Fri., 14.06.2024 – 10:00-14:00
Group 2: Thu., 20.06.2024 – 10:00-14:00
INF 130.1, Seminar Room 01.105

Embark on an intellectual voyage into the heart of a pressing and perennial question: Should scientists step beyond the bounds of research to advocate for policies and engage in the political arena? This seminar, designed for the curious minds of PhD students, postdocs, and professors, offers a comprehensive forum to explore the intricate dance between science and politics through the lens of media and public debate.

As scientists' roles in society evolve, many argue their expertise and evidence-based research uniquely qualify them to influence policy and challenge political narratives. This view posits that engaging in political advocacy is not only an opportunity but a duty for scientists, aiming to steer society towards informed, evidence-based decisions. However, this path is fraught with complex challenges and ethical considerations. Does political involvement risk the impartiality and trust vested in the scientific community? Can scientists maintain their credibility while actively participating in political discourse?

This seminar promises a deep dive into these dilemmas, offering a platform for rigorous debate and reflection. Participants will be encouraged to examine the fine line between advocacy and activism, exploring whether it's possible to maintain scientific objectivity while advocating for change. Drawing on examples, surveys, and studies, we'll dissect the factors driving public trust in science and scrutinize the consequences of scientists' increased visibility in political debates.

Join us for a series of thought-provoking sessions that aim not only to question but also to illuminate the potential pathways for scientists in the realms of policy advocacy and political engagement. Together, we will navigate the challenging yet potentially rewarding landscape where science meets society, deliberating on how best to wield the power of scientific expertise in shaping a better world.

The changing role of science communication 

Target group: Open to all university members
Tue., 18.06.2024 10:00 – 12:30
INF 130.1, Lecture Hall 00.101
Co-Instructor: Dr. Volker Stollorz (Science Media Center Germany, Cologne)

The landscape of science communication is undergoing significant transformation. This engaging course addresses the pressing concerns surrounding the shift towards a more corporate and risk-averse approach in science communication, which potentially jeopardizes open dialogue and undermines public trust in science. Featuring a dialogue between myself and Volker Stollorz, the head of SMC Germany, the session promises to unfold the broader implications for science media relations today. 

We delve into a comprehensive review conducted in 2022 on the evolving role of science press officers in the UK. By scrutinizing the influence of media on scientific discourse, participants will be invited to examine real-world examples, both positive and negative, to better understand the consequences of excluding prominent scientists from media narratives. Concluding with a robust discussion on potential strategies to counteract these trends, the course aims to present the SMC model as a beacon of hope for revitalizing authentic and impactful science communication. Join us for an immersive session that not only highlights the challenges but also charts a path forward in the quest for maintaining the integrity and accessibility of science communication.


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