There has been a great deal of reflection over the past few weeks about the Scottish Independence Referendum.
With 97 per cent of the electorate in Scotland registering to vote, and an eventual turnout of 85 per cent, it was a triumph for democracy and public engagement.
At the same time, it was a major wake-up call to many politicians who have rarely experienced the huge level of interest in their ‘day jobs’. In fact, arguably, many politicians were shown how to do their jobs better.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve repeated it many times – communication is key. At this time of year, there are hundreds of young, enthusiastic students leaving home, going to university to study chemical engineering. They’ve made a big step in a direction that has many opportunities.
In the first few weeks of university they will meet many new people, many of them studying different subjects. One of the first questions asked in these new meetings is “what are you studying?” – and in response to the answer “chemical engineering”, there will be a lot of people asking – “what’s that?”.
As I head to Australia for the Chemeca 2014 conference it reminded me again, that a big challenge is explaining what we do and how it makes a difference.
While having a drink, I thought about Café Scientifique – where anyone with an interest in science and technology can meet to listen, discuss and debate issues.
All it costs you is the price of a drink (tea, coffee or a glass of wine).
There are now local café’s across six continents, offering opportunities to talk about relevant issues.
A few weeks ago, I provided some information to the media in relation to a fracking ‘scare story’. As I always do in these situations, I look at the evidence and provide a factual and objective assessment. As chemical engineers that’s all we can ever do.
Realistically, concerns over fracking are unlikely to disappear. There will always be sceptics, but they have an absolute right to be heard. It’s up to us to listen carefully and respond to these concerns – consistently and in language that everyone understands.