News Release

Mistrust, fake news and conspiracy thinking: Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic for science communication

Meeting Announcement


During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been important to communicate scientific knowledge and uncertainties in both a transparent and understandable manner. Experts will discuss how science communication can be effective in these times and beyond at the International Virtual Panel, organized by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, on Thursday, 7 October 2021.

Leopoldina International Virtual Panel
“Science Communication in Times of COVID-19 under the Spotlight”
Thursday, 7 October 2021, 11:00am to 12:30pm (CEST)
Online via Zoom

Experts will share their experiences in science communication and how they have dealt with mistrust, fake news and conspiracy thinking during the COVID-19 pandemic. They will explain how scientists can translate complex topics into an understandable language, and which media platforms and tools can be implemented to this end. In addition, the panel will reflect on the role of scientific advisers in the public, as well as on chances, limits and trends of science communication.The following experts will be speaking on the podium:

  • Prof Dr Koleka Mlisana, Co-Chair, Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on COVID-19/South Africa
  • Dr Viola Priesemann, Research Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organisation and Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Göttingen/Germany
  • Mia Malan, Editor-in-Chief and Executive Director, Bhekisisa – Centre for Health Journalism, Johannesburg/South Africa
  • Dr David Schieferdecker, Researcher, Division Communication Theory and Media Effects, Institute for Media and Communication Studies, Freie Universität Berlin/Germany
  • Dr Marina Joubert, Science Communication Researcher, Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology, Stellenbosch University/South Africa

The event is part of the Leopoldina International Virtual Panel Series and will be moderated by Rebecca Winkels, Head of Communications and Strategy at Wissenschaft im Dialog.

Further information about the event is available here:

The event is open to the interested public and will be held in English. Attendance is free of charge. Prior registration is required via the following link: After successful registration, participants will receive a confirmation email, with a login link and password. By using the video conferencing platform Zoom, participants agree to the provider’s Privacy Statement:

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About the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
As the German National Academy of Sciences, the Leopoldina provides independent science-based policy advice on matters relevant to society. To this end, the Academy develops interdisciplinary statements based on scientific findings. In these publications, options for action are outlined; making decisions, however, is the responsibility of democratically legitimized politicians. The experts who prepare the statements work in a voluntary and unbiased manner. The Leopoldina represents the German scientific community in the international academy dialogue. This includes advising the annual summits of Heads of State and Government of the G7 and G20 countries. With 1,600 members from more than 30 countries, the Leopoldina combines expertise from almost all research areas. Founded in 1652, it was appointed the National Academy of Sciences of Germany in 2008. The Leopoldina is committed to the common good.

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