Talking hay while the sun shines

Dr Geeta Ludhra, exploring the smell of hay.

Dr Geeta Ludhra, Dadima’s CIC.

“Ah, Mitti Matters!” Dr Geeta Ludhra was responding enthusiastically to my clumsy attempts to explain the value of floodplain meadows.

‘Mitti’ (मिट्टी), Geeta explained, is the Panjabi word for soil. The word ‘mitti’ evokes ancestral land memories for many first and second-generation British South Asians like Geeta, through family histories and nostalgic stories that the elders carried with them from the Motherland. It can hold a deep spiritual and inter-generational dimension of Panjabi folk traditions and celebrations of festivals like Lohri and Vaisakhi.

And Mitti really does matter to Geeta, her identity, her family history and her connections to landscapes. Once Geeta had explained this to me ‘Mitti Matters’ had to be the name of our latest project.

In late May 2024 colleagues from the Floodplain Meadows Partnership and the Open University had the pleasure and privilege of walking with members of the Dadima’s Community Walking Group and other walkers as a contribution to Mitti Matters.

Alongside Geeta, Open University ecologists (David Gowing, Vicky Bowskill and Emma Rothero) helped me to plan our walk together. Emma, David and Vicky led the walk on the day, sharing scientific and cultural information, and answering questions.

A group of walkers and scientists in a hay meadow.

Walkers from Dadima’s CIC, and scientists from the Open University, in a hay meadow. Credit: Sivi Sivanesan.

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Identifying, disentangling and reflecting on traditions in science communication

Professor Richard Holliman, The Open University.

Professor Richard Holliman, The Open University.

In early May 2024 I visited the University of Aberdeen. Colleagues and I from the international PCST Network reviewed sites for the biennial conference that’s scheduled for 27-29 May 2025.

During the course of the visit I presented in a symposium on the themes of the forthcoming PCST Conference (Traditions, Transitions and Tensions) alongside old friends from the EU-funded project ENSCOT, Melanie Smallman and Declan Fahy.

My contribution to the discussion of the themes of the forthcoming PCST Conference explored traditions in science communication.

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Evaluating contemporary science

Effective communication is at the heart of good science. For as long as humans have tried to understand the natural world they have shared information and ideas, with a view to improving our collective understanding.

With the widespread adoption of digital tools for communication the potential for citizens to contribute to the sciences has never been greater.

The Open University has recently published a new Open Learn course that will help you to explore the evolving landscape of science communication, developing skills in critical evaluation, communication and engagement, whilst exploring a range of contemporary topics in science.

You can access the course here: Assessing Contemporary Science.

A longer version of these materials is available as an Open University module: Evaluating contemporary science.

Engaged Research: Why does this matter?

Professor Richard Holliman, The Open University.

Professor Richard Holliman, The Open University.

Under the leadership of Sandy Oliver, Sophie Duncan and Pat Gordon-Smith, UCL Institute of Education, NCCPE and UCL IOE Press are running an all-day seminar on 7 May 2019.

We will be discussing progress to date, and the possible futures for Research for All, an open-access peer-reviewed international journal that launched in 2017.

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