Engaging the public in scientific debate is an immense challenge. But a growing movement is taking science straight to the public by staging events in pubs and cafés. The idea, called Café Scientifique, began in 1997 in France but is going global, and events are now organised in 11 countries.
A typical Café Scientifique involves a short talk by an expert speaker, followed by informal debate about issues of the day such as the ethics of genetic testing. Events have also been run in teacher trainer colleges to build teachers' confidence about discussing science.
As the movement grows, its organisers are looking at ways of developing the idea further. Already, video conferencing has been used to link audiences in the United Kingdom with those in Turkey and the West Bank.
Reference: Nature 429, 333 (2004)