Compelling and transformational science stories sought from ISC Members for a new series produced by BBC StoryWorks

The ISC is excited to announce that BBC StoryWorks, the commercial content studio of BBC Global News, will produce a new series exploring the role of science in solving humankind’s most complex challenges.

A woman researcher is being filmed

The ISC’s members will have a critical role to play in developing the storylines for the series by identifying impactful, solutions-oriented science that will allow the BBC StoryWorks team to create compelling content that activates emotions, whilst delivering the key messages that advance public understanding of scientific research and practice, fortifying levels of public trust in science.


The focus

The series will aim to tell diverse stories from across a range of disciplines and research approaches that demonstrate the transformative power of scientific innovation and progress. Each story should showcase evidence-based actions towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals or demonstrate how lessons learned from the pandemic can be applied to other critical global challenges. Stories will also showcase the ways in which communities engage with science and innovation to deliver transformation, from practical solutions to shaping our understanding of the problem.

This transformation at the heart of our content can be at the individual or institutional level, personal or political. These stories also present a chance to explore the issues that frustrate science’s ability to be transformative.

When the Australian Academy first started the process of using digital story telling for the general public, our fellows were not convinced. A few years down the track, and our engagement on social media has grown to more than two million, and news media come to us to assist in creating digital stories that deliver complex scientific messaging for the public to understand. Using the medium of digital story telling has been a huge success.

We’re really excited about the BBC Storyworks partnership and how it could transform ISC members’ science by bringing it into the public sphere on a trusted platform such as the BBC.

Anna-Maria Arabia, Chief Executive of the Australian Academy of Science

Our ambition

  • Showcase the impact science is having on the achievement of the SDGs
  • Highlight the ways in which lessons from science’s high profile during the pandemic can be applied to other major global challenges
  • Maximise the visibility of scientists’ sometimes inaccessible work and the range of contexts scientists work in
  • Stimulate support for scientific research on critical global issues

About the BBC audience

As audiences around the world have depended on the BBC to provide trusted news, the BBC.com platform has seen record-breaking viewing figures in 2020 with 180m unique browsers and 1.4 billion page views in November alone. Visual storytelling is a powerful tool, and we anticipate that this campaign, leveraging the BBC platforms, and those of the International Science Council and our members, will achieve significant reach, genuine engagement and encourage the recognition of all the sciences as making a substantial and beneficial contribution to global society.

The series will be hosted on a dedicated BBC.com hub, providing an immersive experience for browsers and an opportunity for in-depth coverage.


Story selection

We invite you to share with the BBC StoryWorks team details of any work to be considered for the series. Inclusion in the series will be subject to BBC compliance and editorial sign off. However, a few things to keep in mind when considering stories you might pitch for the series:

  • The team will be looking for stories that demonstrate the thematic focus described above
  • The series needs strong characters who will hold an audience’s attention at the heart of the story
  • The bigger the potential scale of transformation from the science, the better
  • Our ability to verify the quality of the science to be featured will also factor into our selection process
  • Finally, we will be looking for a diverse range of scientists and disciplines to feature

Please be aware that while there is funding for the media and distribution of the series, organizations may be asked to contribute some costs towards the production of their story.

To express your interest in participating in the series, please submit your story via this link or contact the BBC StoryWorks team directly through the Research Manager: Lara.McNeil@bbc.com


Timeline

The first call for stories will close on 30 April, with a view to filming and content creation over the summer and early autumn. The series should be launched during the International Science Council’s General Assembly in October 2021.

Nick Ishmael-Perkins, who has joined the ISC team as a senior consultant leading our work on the Public Value of Science, which includes this exciting partnership with BBC Storyworks will be leading this project. If you have any queries about the programme, please follow-up with him: Nick.Perkins@council.science.

The ISC looks forward to seeing your stories brought to screen to demonstrate the impact and value of our collective work for a global audience.


Image by Penn State (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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