Science Cafés are live—and lively—events that take place in casual settings such as pubs and coffeehouses, are open to everyone, and feature an engaging conversation with a scientist about a particular topic.
The Science Café format has spread across the globe, adapting to different cultures and audiences. Whether it’s in a bar in Somerville, MA, an Indian restaurant in New Rochelle, NY, or a coffeehouse in San Francisco, CA, each café:
- Encourages conversation, debate, interaction, and dialogue between scientists and the public.
Successful Science Cafés create a comfortable atmosphere where everyone joins in. They are not long lectures with a passive audience listening to an expert.
- Reaches out to all audiences.
Science Cafés welcome people who may or may not typically get involved with scientific discussions. They are not exclusive club meetings for scientists and science majors.
Is there a single organization that oversees Science Cafés?
Science Cafés represent a grassroots movement. They exist all over the world and can vary from place to place. Many Science Cafés in the United States draw inspiration from Café Scientifique, a network based in the United Kingdom. Even the names of Science Safés vary, including Science on Tap, Science Pub, Ask a Scientist, and Café Sci.
Who can start a Science Café?
Anyone can organize a Science Café—you don’t have to be a scientist! All you need is a passion for science and a willingness to reach out and talk with people.
Who runs the ScienceCafes.org website?
ScienceCafes.org is produced by NOVA scienceNOW, in association with Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. Created with the help and input of many Science Café organizers, it is intended as a community resource to support and encourage the growth of Science Cafés.
In 2006, sciencecafes.org was born! NOVA scienceNOW and Sigma Xi brought together 40 Science Café organizers from all over the United States who shared their insights, challenges, and vision. Everyone agreed that a unified U.S. website would help the movement grow.
NOVA scienceNOW and Sigma Xi organized a second Science Café conference at WGBH Boston in 2008 for 60 Science Café and Café Scientifique organizers. After this conference, an online network was developed to help café organizers share ideas, tips, and advice.
The Science Café movement has continued to grow. In 2011, NOVA scienceNOW and the Science Festival Alliance hosted the International Public Science Events Conference in Washington, DC. This two-day conference attracted more than 200 international and domestic science outreach practitioners.