This year the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards team is making a special effort to encourage more entries from Canada in all categories. There is no entry fee for the contest, which is judged by independent panels of journalists.
The entry deadline is 1 August 2020. Entries must have been published, broadcast or posted online from 16 July 2019 to 15 July 2020.
We will present two awards in each category, a Gold award worth $5,000 and a Silver award worth $3,500. Please read the Contest Rules and Frequently Asked Questions before submitting.
For more information and to enter, go to: https://sjawards.aaas.org/enter.
SWCC's Annual Conference in Guelph during the speed dating session.
Conspiracy theories about the origin of new coronavirus, exaggerated claims about “cures” and vaccinations, conflicting advice on wearing masks, pundits accusing each other of being armchair epidemiologists … all of a sudden, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, science communication is in the spotlight.
Here in British Columbia, I’ve been struck by the difference in communication style between U.S. President Donald Trump and our own provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Trump, of course, has been making all sorts of wild and sometimes dangerous statements, very few of them based on evidence. Dr. Henry, on the other hand, has been speaking calmly, clearly, and without exaggeration or conscious bias. She doesn’t speculate, she admits what she does not know, and she speaks plainly and without condescension or judgement. She comes across as trustworthy. It’s no wonder that many attribute B.C.’s success in containing COVID-19 in part to her daily public statements.
But it’s not just Bonnie Henry who’s providing a good example of how to communicate. Science communicators in Canada and globally have been doing an outstanding job in sorting through the deluge of news, opinions, claims, rumours, media releases and social media feeds. (See this story in Nature for a great analysis of how science communicators and researchers are fighting COVID-19 rumours.)
Science communication often goes unacknowledged, but its importance cannot be underestimated, especially now. Whether we work for the media, freelance, host a podcast, write a blog, or do corporate, non-profit or university communications, we are needed, we are important. It will be interesting to see whether the public perception of science communication changes once the current crisis is over. I hope not.
And organizations such as the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada (SWCC) also play their part; in providing opportunities for education, networking and more. As it says on our website, we “foster quality science communication that links science and technology communicators from coast-to-coast.”
The SWCC is run by a volunteer Board of Directors. As you know, we’ve had to postpone our AGM and Board elections until November. If you’re interested in running for the Board, we’d love to have you! You can find out more information, and download the nomination form, at https://sciencewriters.ca/election-2020
Stay safe and healthy.
Terry Lavender, SWCC President
Due to the necessity of postponing the June 2020 conference, the SWCC Board of Directors has voted unanimously to postpone the Annual General Meeting until November 2020. The AGM will be held online, as provided for in the SWCC constitution.
Because of the postponement, the Board also voted to postpone the 2020 Board elections until that time. We will provide further details on nominations, voting and the AGM as soon as possible.
Terry Lavender, President
Dear friends and members of the SWCC:
In light of current events, the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada board of directors has made the decision to postpone the 2020 conference to spring 2021.
The board did not take this decision lightly. The best scientific evidence available from Canada’s public health officials advises the current wave of COVID-19 will not subside in Canada until the middle of the summer. In the interest of protecting the health and well-being of our members, friends of the organization, and the front-line workers across Canada, the SWCC are postponing our annual conference.
The 2021 conference will still be held in Ottawa. We are working hard to announce the dates and location soon.
The interim period will be an uncertain time for the SWCC. The annual conference represents a primary source of income for the organization and is the organization’s main event for professional development and networking among our members. In the coming weeks, the SWCC will be reaching out to members to support us through this time, and to tell them more about how we will be giving back to them, through a new professional development series to supplement professional development and networking in the absence of an annual conference.
Rhonda Moore, 2020-21 SWCC Conference Chair
The Science Writers & Communicators of Canada will be electing new members to its board at the upcoming Annual General Meeting in May — three directors and the treasurer, vice-president and president. If you have ever wanted to have a hand in the way our organization operates, you are asked to please put your name forward.
Please visit the nominations page and complete your nomination package by May 29, 2020!
I am excited to celebrate the news with you that 4 weeks before her 100th birthday, Joan Hollobon was named an Officer of the Order of Canada on 28 December 2019 in recognition of her contribution to Canada during her career as a medical reporter for The Globe and Mail from 1959-1985.
Joan's appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada appears on the website of the Governor General of Canada (www.gg.ca), along with a short Citation:
"For her career in journalism focused on increasing the public's understanding of scientific concepts related to health and medical advances".
By Andy F. Visser-deVries
Welcome to 2020.
I'll skip the jokes about perfect vision (my own eyesight is far from 20/20) and get right down to things.
Terry Lavender has been appointed as the Interim President of the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada (SWCC), effective immediately and concluding at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) at this year’s annual conference in Ottawa June 25 and 26.
The SWCC Board of Directors unanimously approved Lavender’s appointment at its meeting on January 15, 2020. He takes on the role of Interim President after Elizabeth Howell resigned as President for personal reasons in early December 2019.
Terry brings with him more than 20 years of communications experience, chiefly in post-secondary education. He has held posts at the University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario, and Simon Fraser University. He is currently manager of communications in the University of British Columbia’s president’s office, where he juggles social media, speeches, videos, blogs, podcasts, and more.
The SWCC Board extends its thanks to Terry for stepping into the Interim President role. His appointment will allow for a smooth transition to a new President, with the usual call for nominations and regular election of the board for 2020-2021 at the AGM in Ottawa at the end of June.
If you are an SWCC member and are interested in joining the board of our organization, or would like to put forward an SWCC colleague as a suggestion, please reach out to our Board of Directors through the Contact Us page at sciencewriters.ca.
With great sadness we announce that Elizabeth Howell is resigning from the SWCC Board as President and Director. Elizabeth is a space and science freelance writer, an international public engagement speaker and a technical writing professor at Algonquin College. She is stepping down from the SWCC Board for personal and professional reasons.
Elizabeth has accomplished an incredible amount for SWCC in a very short time period. She spearheaded a successful membership drive for the organization. She tirelessly supported the teams organizing the 2019 SWCC conference in Winnipeg, and the 2020 conference in Ottawa. She helped to streamline SWCC’s very complicated membership and conference online payment system. She took an incredibly time-consuming inventory of SWCC’s hard copy documents to prepare them for digitizing and archiving. These documents represent the history of SWCC and will be made publicly available online. Elizabeth organized a major refresh of SWCC’s website, including a new theme and a reorganization of pages. She worked with student bloggers to contribute regular articles to the site. Her support for individual SWCC Directors, SWCC’s General Manager and SWCC Committees has been unwavering.
The Board is incredibly grateful for all that she has done and wishes her the best in all of her future endeavours.
If you have any questions about this transition, please contact the Board of Directors through our Contact Us page.
If you're looking for some great gifts for the holidays, look no further than the winners of our 2018 book awards.
And attention authors: Nominations for this year's process are open right now, so please check out this link and respond by the deadline to be considered for next year!
Our three book awardees crafted two incredible books -- one for children and one for adults -- and you can find more information on them below.
Official description: When winter arrives, animals living in cold environments need to cope to survive. Do polar bears build homes? Do penguins snuggle with a friend? Yes! But their homes aren’t made of wood, and they don’t cuddle on a couch. Instead, these animals and many more have adapted in amazing ways to survive chilly weather.
Whether it’s whales layering up with plenty of blubber, turtles burrowing into the mud to snooze and wait for spring, or emperor penguins coming together in a giant huddle, this book is full of fascinating tidbits about animal behaviour in winter.
Written in a question-and-answer format, this interactive nonfiction book encourages kids to predict the answers and shout them out. Playful phrasing and comic illustrations make the content engaging for readers, who will gain newfound knowledge and an early understanding of adaptations in nature.
Etta Kaner writes for both children and educators. A number of her books have won awards, namely, the Silver Birch award, the Henry Bergh award, the Animal Behaviour Society award, the Scientific American Young Readers book award and the Science in Society book award. Etta lives in Toronto, Ontario. Visit her website at: www.ettakaner.com
John Martz is a cartoonist and illustrator in Toronto, Ontario. His 2016 graphic novel for children, A Cat Named Tim and Other Stories, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Awards and was nominated for the Eisner Award for Best Publication for Early Readers. His book Burt’s Way Home was nominated for Best Book in the 2017 Doug Wright Awards for Canadian cartooning.
Official description: We live at the bottom of an ocean of air — 5,200 million million tons, to be exact. It sounds like a lot, but Earth’s atmosphere is smeared onto its surface in an alarmingly thin layer — 99 percent contained within 18 miles. Yet, within this fragile margin lies a magnificent realm — at once gorgeous, terrifying, capricious, and elusive. With his keen eye for identifying and uniting seemingly unrelated events, Chris Dewdney reveals to us the invisible rivers in the sky that affect how our weather works and the structure of clouds and storms and seasons, the rollercoaster of climate.
Dewdney details the history of weather forecasting and introduces us to the eccentric and determined pioneers of science and observation whose efforts gave us the understanding of weather we have today. 18 Miles is a kaleidoscopic and fact-filled journey that uncovers our obsession with the atmosphere and weather — as both evocative metaphor and physical reality. From the roaring winds of Katrina to the frozen oceans of Snowball Earth, Dewdney entertains as he gives readers a long overdue look at the very air we breathe.
Christopher Dewdney is the author of five books of non-fiction as well as eleven books of poetry. A four-time nominee for the Governor General's Award he won first-prize in the CBC Literary Competition for poetry and was awarded the Harbourfront Festival Prize, given in recognition of his contribution to Canadian literature. His non-fiction book, Acquainted With The Night; Excursions into the World After Dark, was nominated for both a Governor
General's Award and The Charles Taylor Prize for non-fiction, and was published in six countries.
Dewdney appeared in the critically acclaimed film, Poetry in Motion, and an adaptation of his book, Acquainted With the Night, was released
as a feature documentary by Markham Street Films in 2010. The movie garnered a Gemini award in 2011. His most recent non-fiction title, 18 Miles: The Epic Drama of our Atmosphere and its Weather, was published by ECW in 2018. Dewdney teaches creative writing and poetics at York University in Toronto.
P.O. Box 75 Station A