Product has been added to the basket

Communicating Contested Geoscience:
New Strategies for Public Engagement

A one-day conference on communicating key geoscience challenges with the public

Geological issues are increasingly relevant to the everyday lives of people across the UK. Whether it be onshore exploration and extraction of oil and gas, deep injection of waters for geothermal power or underground storage of carbon dioxide and radioactive waste, many communities across the country are having to consider the ramifications of geological engineering interventions under their backyard.

Alongside the complex scientific and technical challenges is the problem that, to most people, the geological subsurface is an unknown realm. That combination presents particular difficulties for professional geoscientists communicating what they do and what they know to the public. Equally, developing public participation strategies that effectively engage with citizens, communities and stakeholder groups requires geoscientists to better appreciate what the public knows and what they have concerns about.

This conference was a forum to bring together geoscientists from universities, industry and government alongside specialists in communication and public engagement to explore the challenges of communicating contested geological issues to the wider public.


The meeting, aimed at emerging geoscience professionals and experienced practitioners who wish to better engage with the public, focused principally on three current and pressing societal concerns in the UK:

  1. Radioactive Waste Disposal
  2. Shale Gas / Fracking
  3. Carbon Capture and Storage

These themes were explored through a mix of keynote talks and expert panel discussions, alongside active Q & A from an audience of geoscience and communication practitioners.

Confirmed speakers included:

Shale Gas
  • Mark Lappin, former head of Dart Europe
  • David Mackay, Chief Scientist, DECC / University of Cambridge
  • Brigitte Nerlich, Professor of Science, Language & Society, Institute of Science and Society, Nottingham University
  • Mike Stephenson, Director of Science, British Geological Survey
Carbon Capture & Storage
  • Kirsty Anderson, Public Engagement Manager, Global CCS Institute
  • Andrew Chadwick, Head of CO2 Storage Research, British Geological Survey
  • Jon Gluyas, Professor in CCS and Geo-energy, Durham University
  • Clair Gough, University of Manchester
Nuclear Waste
  • Bruce Cairns, Office of Nuclear Development, DECC
  • Rebecca Lunn, Professor of Engineering Geosciences, University of Strathclyde / CoRWM
  • Phil Richardson, Senior Consultant, Galson Sciences  Ltd
  • Bruce Yardley, Chief Geologist, NDA RWM
Public Engagement
  • Ruth Allington, GWP Partners
  • David Manning, Professor of Soil Science, Newcastle University / Geological Society President
  • Nick Pidgeon, Professor of Environmental Psychology, Cardiff University
  • David Reiner, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
  • Paul Younger, Rankine Chair of Engineering, University of Glasgow


  • Iain Stewart (Plymouth)
  • Zoe Shipton (Strathclyde)
  • Clare Bond (Aberdeen)
  • Nick Smith (Manchester)

back to top

Event Details

Communicating Contested Geoscience 

Date: 20 June 2014
Venue: The Geological Society, Burlington House, London


Related Links

external linkCommunicating Contested Geoscience (11/9/14 Blog Post by Nic Bilham)


On Twitter: