The Cafe Scientifique Movement

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Cafe Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings have taken place in cafes, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context.

The first Cafes Scientifiques were held in the UK in Leeds in 1998. Since then, Cafes Scientifiques have sprung up in Newcastle, Nottingham and Oxford and the network has now begun to expand to other cities in the UK. We hope that by 2003 there will be a thriving network of 20 to 30 Cafes that meet regularly to hear scientists or writers on science talk about their work and discuss it with diverse audiences.

Cafe Scientifique is a forum for debating science issues, not a shop window for science. We are committed to promoting public engagement with science and to making science accountable.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Cafe Scientifique?

The Cafe Scientifique is a forum for the discussion of important and interesting scientific issues that is much more informal and accessible than a public lecture.

Who else will be there?

The audience will consist of people who are interested in science but generally never have the opportunity to discuss their views with and ask questions of someone “in the know”. No scientific knowledge will be assumed by the speakers so that everyone can participate.

What happens at a Cafe Scientifique?

each event starts with a short talk from a speaker who is usually a scientist or a writer on science. After this there is usually a short break to allow us to refill our glasses and have a few private discussions. This is generally followed by an hour or so of questions and answers and general discussion. There will be opportunity for everyone to ask questions, and we welcome those which begin “This might be a stupid question, but……” These questions are invariably not stupid and often rather insightful.

Where and When?

Cafes Scientifiques are hosted in a range of venues. Most of these are bars or cafes, but some are bookshops, theatres or community spaces. Cafes Scientifiques are usually held on a regular basis (e.g. the last Tuesday of the month, the second Monday of the month etc) and take place in the evening. Check our website list for the details of a Cafe Scientifique near you.

What subjects will be discussed?

Cafe Scientifiques discuss a wide range of issues relating to science and technology. Some of the topics covered include AIDS, the Big Bang, biodiversity, cancer, code-breaking, consciousness, Darwinism, ecology, evolution, extreme life, foetal experience, genetically modified organisms, global warming, infertility, nanotechnology, the Public Understanding of Science movement, sports science, superconductors. All Cafes Scientifiques include suggestions from the audience in their programmes. If you want to find out more about a particular topic, go along to your local Cafe and suggest it to the organisers.

Do I need to buy a ticket?

Cafe Scientifique is generally free and you can just turn up on the night. However, in some venues a small entry charge is made to cover venue costs and many Cafes pass a hat round on the night and ask for contributions towards the speaker’s travel expenses. These are always voluntary. Check our website for details of the Cafe Scientifique nearest to you.

Does Cafe Scientifique make a profit?

Cafe Scientifique does not make a profit from events or pay a fee to the speaker.



Photos from The Alchemist Cafe



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