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50 participate in Ecsite Directors’ Forum 2010

50 Ecsite members participated in the Ecsite Directors’ Forum 2010, hosted by the Natural History Museum, London. “Bad Science” writer Ben Goldacre, agricultural biologist Angelika Hilbeck, cultural sector expert John Holden and HR specialist Duncan Mayo were among the keynote speakers at this year’s Forum, 2-4 December 2010, which addressed the theme of change. This event is the most important annual meeting for directors of science centres and museums in Europe. The Directors’ Forum is an event for the directors of all Full Members of Ecsite to come together and tackle key questions in our field. Faced with an ever-changing society and economy, how do science centres and museums adapt to the challenges that these changes bring? Among the the Natural History Museum’s awe-inspiring 70 million specimens, participants looked at the types of change that affect us, and the changes we make as an institution.

This year, the format of the sessions was simple: it focused on inspiration from outside, and in-depth discussion among directors. We took four topics relating to change, and each topic formed the basis of a session. One of four innovative, sparky keynote speakers launched each topic with a brief, provocative, inspiring presentation, drawing on stories from their work, ideas from other fields and from broader perspectives. Heads buzzing with ideas, directors followed up each presentation with in-depth discussion groups, allowing the time to thoroughly talk over the issues raised, sharing ideas and directors drawing their own conclusions among themselves.

Four keynote speakers raised key questions for our institutions. How is science changing in its relationship to society, and what stance do our institutions adopt in response? The media, too, is rapidly evolving – what institutional changes do science centres and museums need to make, in order to keep up? What does the future hold for our field, and how will we need to position ourselves in the years to come? And how can we become institutions which truly change the world?

Keynote speakers included:

  • Ben Goldacre, columnist for the Guardian newspaper, blogger and author of bestseller Bad Science, on the changing relationship between science and the media;
  • Angelika Hilbeck, senior researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and chair of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility, on the changing stakes in scientific research, and the consequences for the field of public engagement;
  • John Holden, associate at UK thinktank Demos and Visiting Professor at City University on creative approaches to organisational change.
  • Duncan Mayo, Human Resources Manager for John Wiley & Sons (previously Blackwell Publishing) in Oxford, on change and human capital.

Ecsite as a network faces some significant strategic changes too. We extended the Directors’ Forum to incorporate a crucial Extraordinary Meeting of Ecsite Full members in order to discuss the proposed revision of the statutes of our network as an organisation. This discussion resulted in a final revision to be voted on during the AGM at the Ecsite Annual Conference in Warsaw, 2011.

On Saturday morning we also involved Ecsite Full members in the strategic planning process currently underway, in order to ensure all Full members have the opportunity to have their say in planning Ecsite’s future work.


The Natural History Museum, London

Winner of the 2003 Visitor Attraction of the Year award, the Natural History Museum is also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise, the Museum is helping to conserve the extraordinary richness and diversity of the natural world with ground-breaking projects in 68 countries. The Museum is committed to promoting public understanding of science. This has been greatly enhanced by the Darwin Centre, a major new initiative, which offers visitors unique access behind the scenes of the Museum.