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Showing posts from June, 2015

Why partnerships are so vital to the University of Bristol and the Cabot Institute (part 2)

Launching VENTURE during Bristol 2015  VENTURE is a new collaborative partnership with some of our major corporate partners.  It is the latest in a series of announcements (including Bristol is Open, the UK Collaboration for Research and Infrastructure and Cities, and the launch of a new project on Re-Distributed Manufacturing and the Resilient, Sustainable City) that represent a step change in how we are engaging with the city and region during 2015.  In my previous article, I discussed the ethos that underpins our drive to build partnerships – across the city, the region, national and globally.  In this follow-up, I want to share some of the very exciting activities that are currently happening, many of them catalysed by the efforts to win the European Green Capital award.

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For the Cabot Institute, one of the great opportunities of Bristol 2015 has been a stronger relationship with organisations across the city. Many of our 2015 activities are the culmination of our past p…

Festival of Nature 2015: Roots and soil erosion

Seed lucky dips, 3D-printer pens, and Bill Oddie with a puffin. All in a day’s volunteering for the Festival of Nature 2015!
Bristol’s Festival of Nature is the UK’s largest celebration of the natural world, and has recently spread over into Bath too. This year, I helped Kevin Smyth and Tom Denbigh from the School of Biological Sciences. Their work in Prof Claire Grierson's lab group looks at plant roots, especially how important they are at preventing soil erosion. This work is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
The stall really helped reveal what’s going under our feet in any park, garden or green space. Like the well-known tip of the iceberg, there’s often a lot going on below the surface! For the sunflowers in this rhizotron, the roots were taller than many of the kids we saw!

We also had some smaller plants growing in transparent media (see image above). The bean on the left has thicker roots and very few side shoots, whereas the tomato on the right has much thinner roots but m…

The great climate communication clash

Cultural cognition vs. consensus messaging:  Challenges of climate communication in a polarized world
If anyone attending the Cabot Institute debate between science communication researchers Dan Kahan and Stephan Lewandowsky last Wednesday was hoping for a relaxing, passive glance into the word of climate communication then they were in for a shock.
Attending the event, which was moderated by Climate Outreach director Dr Adam Corner, was like being thrown into a politically-fuelled hurricane of communication and miscommunication. The mildly terrifying, albeit engaging, debating style of Dan Kahan meant there was never a dull moment as the two world-leading cognitive scientists locked horns over their opinions on how science should communicate climate change to the public. 
The evening was kicked off by Kahan, whose invasive debating style saw him thundering into the audience to deliver his messages, a style which certainly drew attention if not support. The greatest focus of his mess…