Communication & Public Perception
The communication and public perception sessions consisted of a number of interesting papers on different subjects, and sometimes surprising ways of presenting them. A paper from Hungary was given by a high school science teacher and his pupil in a question and answer style, and demonstrated the importance of experiment as opposed to simulation through a school project on in-house radon levels.
Some papers covered a quite new and/or unexpected subject. To most participants, the topic of improving public acceptance through memetic engineering, presented in a Canadian paper, was a completely new approach. The French approach to transparency by creating an internet site with webcams was also considered an unexpected way to say we have nothing to hide. In the question and answer session afterwards, some members in the audience had some new information to share, especially on the Tokaimura accident. However, the most controversial and to the audience certainly most surprising presentation was given by a journalist, who created quite a stir by stating that “journalists dont need education, communication is ok, but information is better” She added tothat the importance of trust. It should be no surprise that most audience questions were addressed to her.
Even though different cultures have to deal with slightly different types of problems in nuclear technology, the cause of the public perception problem and the approach to solve it through communication seems to be the same everywhere. The importance of clear and honest information was mentioned more than once. The Y notes session group suggests however that a new and better approach would be to use the tricks of Greenpeace, without copying their style. This means making a bigger effort to be seen and heard, develop and follow a clear strategy, and being more creative. A group like the IYNC is the ideal organization to do this, especially since company-related activities often dont allow young generation professionals to do their thing.
Based on a question asked by the IYNC General Chair, during the Y notes session, the group considered the possibility of having a session with anti-nuclear opponents (e.g Greenpeace) in future IYNC meetings. The group agreed to this in general, but with conditions. The following suggestions were made to meet these conditions:
Some concern was uttered regarding the potential negative (media) impact such an event/session might cause. However, most participants agreed that with the necessary preparation and strategic planning, such an event might be an educational experience for a lot of young generation professionals.