The value and role of both science and science communication itself is well understood. However, Covid-19 has brought about an unprecedented moment in science and an unprecedented moment in time in the public’s relationship with science. Covid-19 has seen scientists venture more prominently into the public eye while the public grappled with finding a deeper understanding of this virus in a minefield of misinformation. The pivotal role that science engagement and the science media play in South African society has never been clearer, nor has it been more challenging. Covid-19 has also brought about a moment where scientists and science media practitioners can partner in new ways to communicate with the public.

As the pandemic continues, countries have been pushed into taking stringent measures to prop up local economies. Severe budget cuts and the diversion of resources has become a reality for many and South Africa has not been spared. Budget cuts to the Department of Science and Innovation which funds most scientific research and science communication activities, as well as the closure of media houses and the loss of science journalist posts may have far-reaching impacts on science itself and on science engagement.

Join Scifest Africa and Steven Lang in conversation with Prof Himla Soodyall (ASSAF), Mandi Smallhorne (SASJA) and Dr Beverley Damonse (NRF) as they reflect on the role and value of science and science media in this time of Covid-19, what is needed to ensure that we remain agile to respond in future and the different trajectories that need to be in place to ensure post-pandemic survival.

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