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Science Communication in Times of COVID-19 under the Spotlight (2021)


Science communication is essential to support critical decisions and policies with evidence-based data and to inform citizens especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, how can science communication be effective in these times and beyond?

This International Virtual Panel, organized by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, have provided a platform for renowned speakers from both countries to approach this guiding question from different angles and consider lessons learned during the pandemic. The experts discussed how science communication deals with mistrust, fake news, and conspiracy theories. They also analyzed how scientists translate complex topics into an understandable language, and which media platforms and tools they use to inform policy makers and citizens. Moreover, the panel reflected on the role of scientific advisers in the public, as well as on chances, limits, and trends of science communication.


  • Prof Dr Koleka Mlisana, Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on COVID-19, South Africa
  • Dr Viola Priesemann, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization & Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Göttingen, Germany
  • Mia Malan, Bhekisisa – Centre for Health Journalism, South Africa
  • Dr David Schieferdecker, Department of Political and Social Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
  • Dr Marina Joubert, Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

This panel discussion was moderated by German science journalist Rebecca Winkels, Director of Communications and Strategy at Wissenschaft im Dialog, and is part of the Leopoldina International Virtual Panel Series.

Image: Leopoldina / Stefanie Kirsch

© German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina 2021



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