Effective Science Communication: Bridging the Science-to-Policy Gap


Aiming to bridge the science-to-policy gap, the ASEAN Foundation conceived the ASEAN Science and Technology Fellowship. In its fifth cycle, the 2019/2020 Fellowship will enable 17 ASEAN scientists to contribute their specialist knowledge and skills towards science-based policy and decision making by joining sectoral and line ministries and other national agencies in their home countries.

After extensive consultation with the ASEAN Foundation, and incorporating feedback from past Fellows, The HEAD Foundation has designed a capacity building programme for the current cohort of ASEAN Science and Technology Fellows. This programme intends to equip Fellows with the skills required to improve their science communication and translate their knowledge into lay terms to effectively engage with policymakers, and to impact policy changes.

On 28 June 2019, The HEAD Foundation kicked off the training programme with a three-day workshop in Bali, Indonesia.

Dr Khoo explains the Fellows’ preferred thinking styles

The Fellows received the results of their Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument personality analysis, and learned about their brain dominance and their preferred thinking style. Dr Khoo Cheok Kau, Founder, Manager and Principal Trainer of Kairos Performance Learning PLT, explained how understanding different thinking styles can one tailor their message for specific recipents. Dr Khoo also conducted a session “Think on Your Feet®” which focused on impromptu communication techniques.

Dr Mohd Ghows Mohd Azzam, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), shared tips on how to build and project a high level of confidence through body language and Dr Norazharuddin Shah Abdullah, also from USM, elaborated on how appropriate body language can convey composure and enthusiasm, and how to use gestures to enhance non-verbal communication.

Dr Norazharuddin holds a mock TV interview with a Fellow

Dr Khayriyyah Mohd Hanafiah (USM), the 2018 Champion of the prestigious global science communication competition FameLab International, shared tips on using tone and emotions to improve delivery and influence.

Dr Chang Da Wan (USM), a regular advisor to the Malaysian government, walked the Fellows through a policy brief writing activity; the Fellows learnt how to write simply and clearly to convey their scientific knowledge to policymakers.

The Fellows also learnt how to use social media, how to handle the press, and were guided through a press writing exercise by Mr Danial Abdul Rahman, former Press Secretary to the Minister of Higher Education Malaysia.

Mr Rahman and Dr Ghows facilitate a session of writing exercise

Over the course of three days, the Fellows participated in activities to improve their confidence, oral presentation skills, writing skills and media management. The Fellows will continue their learnings in an online community of practice, where they can share learning and best practices, and receive feedback over the course of the year.

Later this year, the Fellows will reconvene for another capacity building workshop to strengthen their communication and collaboration skills.

Check back soon for updates.