PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Einstein @ Rotman

The Rotman Institute of Philosophy organized a series of outreach events in 2015 celebrating the centenary of Einstein’s discovery of general relativity, including:
• an academic conference, with philosophers and physicists;
• six public talks on different aspects of Einstein’s work (total attendance over 350);
• a special issue of the campus newspaper featuring articles about Einstein; and
• a small museum exhibition featuring high quality replicas of manuscripts leading up to Ein- stein’s discovery of general relativity, posters created for the show (describing Einstein’s life, cultural impact, and aspects of general relativity), and various hands-on demonstrations.
Each of these outreach activities will be described in more detail on the poster. Enduring public curiosity in Einstein’s work, heightened by celebrations of the discovery of general relativity, allowed us to reach a broad audience. Our approach was distinctive in emphasizing the philosophical character of Einstein’s thought, and how important this was to his creative achievements in physics. The museum exhibit was viewed by over 300 people in just under a month, including two receptions open to the general public that included a chance for them to talk to faculty and graduate students about the displays. We advertised the exhibit and other events on social media. During the period of Einstein @ Rotman activity, the Rotman Institute gained over 250 Facebook page likes, 300 new Twitter followers, and 231 new YouTube subscribers. Over 350 people attended the six public talks, and the 11 videos posted on YouTube have received over 5,000 combined views as of July 2016. This coordinated outreach initiative organized around a single theme was more effective in reaching a large audience than individual events. It allowed us to engage with the public in a variety of different ways, and sustain activities over various media.

Author Information:

Chris Smeenk    
Rotman Institute of Philosophy / Department of Philosophy
Western University


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