An 18th century idea for 21st century schools
In the eighteenth century, coffeehouses were great social levellers, gathering places where customers might hear about the latest scientific theory, political news or business idea and converse directly with the men behind the events. Café Sci updates that concept for 21st century science and 21st century students.
Café Scientifique in Britain started in 1998 in Leeds. The British movement's founder, Duncan Dallas, based his event on the model of the French Cafés Philosophiques: events without boundaries, where anyone, not just experts, could debate the burning issues of the day. Since then, Café Scientifique has spread across the globe, with around fifty cafés in the UK and many more springing up in Europe, the Americas, the Far East and Africa. More information is available from the website www.cafescientifique.org
Much of the expansion of Café Scientifique, including the expansion into schools was supported by funding from the Wellcome Trust, but many Cafés Scientifiques are now supported by local sponsors.
Café Sci is now mainly run through a team of volunteers and relies on programmes such as STEM Ambassadors to help link schools to speakers.