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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Dan Egan fields questions from a record-breaking crowd gathered at the Working Draft Brewery as part of the university’s Science on Tap lecture series.

Dan Egan fields questions from a record-breaking crowd gathered at the Working Draft Brewery as part of the university’s Science on Tap lecture series.

Great Lakes on tap as Big Read author steps off campus, into local bar

For a change of pace after a whirlwind week of lectures and events on campus, Dan Egan, author of UW-Madison’s 2018-’19 Go Big Read book, spoke to laid back audience at an East Side bar Wednesday night, part of the university’s Science on Tap series.

Over 100 community members crowded the Working Draft Beer Company to sip craft brews and chat with the Milwaukee author, whose book The Life and Death of the Great Lakes landed on the New York Times Best Sellers list and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize this year.

The event was an opportunity for the community to engage with the author about issues affecting all things freshwater, according to Adam Hinterthuer, Center for Limnology outreach director and Science on Tap coordinator.

“It’s much less of a lecture about science and more of a conversation,” Hinterthuer said. “The idea is people come out to a space they enjoy hanging out in anyway, and science happens on the side.”

Even Egan, who is a journalist more than a limnologist by training, joked that he was “not really a science guy,” but that he was “a tap guy.”

Events like Science on Tap are one way Hinterthuer said scientists can begin to bridge the gap between their research and the larger community. One way he says Science on Tap is helping to remedy that problem is by bringing science to people in a way that is comfortable and welcoming to them.

“Getting people access to science is a really cool way of doing better science communication and of breaking it down to these bits of information people can digest,” he said. “What’s really cool about it is it’s not just an expert telling people what to do about it or what they know. It’s people bringing their own questions and their own experiences to the table and starting this conversation.”

One of the most important things Hinterheur said people can do to become more educated is to just pay attention.

“A lot of the problems we have in the great lakes are the results of policies that were implemented in the past and we are now reaping the consequences of those in the present, Hinterteur said. “The more educated and informed people are about the science that is out there, the more ... you can start pushing policy makers to address issues.”

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