Article

14/12/2018

This paper presents the first study ever conducted on the profile of visitors to the Museum of Human Evolution of Burgos (Spain), which exhibits the finds of the Atapuerca archaeo-paleontological sites. The research was guided by the principles of public communication of science and the methodology of the studies on museum visitors. The analysis reveals a positive perception; the Museum is associated with the sites and they are valued as cultural heritage. Complaints are very limited but useful to produce a set of recommendations to further improve the exhibition. In addition, the findings are placed in the context of similar research carried out at other museums in Spain.

16/10/2018

According to the Gateway Belief Model, scientists and science educators should stress the scientific consensus when engaging with the lay population across a wide variety of mediums, including debates. The purpose of this study, then, was to determine if engaging in such debates does more harm than good in terms of persuading individuals towards accepting the scientific consensus of controversial issues. Participants (N = 208) read a manipulated debate segment altered by the issue discussed as well as the position/title of the skeptic debater. Results indicate that it is possible to influence individuals exposed to these debate segments, but the effects are issue-contingent. Limitations and future research related to science education are discussed.

01/10/2018

Genetic Modification (GM) has been a topic of public debates during the 1990s and 2000s. In this paper we explore the relative importance of two hypothesized explanations for these controversies: (i) people's general attitude toward science and technology and (ii) their trust in governance, in GM actors, and in GM regulations, in explaining the Dutch public's Attitude toward GM applications, and in addition to that, the public's GM Information seeking behaviour. This will be conducted through the application of representative survey methodology. The results indicate that Attitudes toward GM applications are best predicted by both the attitude toward science and technology and three trust measures. GM information seeking is predicted by gender and educational level, as well as attitude toward science and technology, trust in organisations and trust in regulations (negative). Overall, psychological variables seem better predictors than demographics. Implications for future research on information seeking behaviour are discussed.

17/09/2018

This paper focusses on the sense making and use of science by environmental activists. It is based on the assumption that activists — without being scientists or professional science communicators — take up a central role in the environmental discourse concerning the translation of scientific findings and their public dissemination. It is thus asked how environmental activists evaluate the relevance of science for their work, which structures and processes they apply to make sense of science, and how they use science related information to make their voices heard. This paper presents data from a study on Canadian activists regarding their use of scientific information in the field of forest protection. The data, interpreted in the context of a situational analysis, helps to enhance understanding of environmental activists' information systems but also show the strategic use of scientific information by these alternative science communicators.

10/09/2018

Since the early 1990s, there has been a considerable increase in the number of scientific studies on science communication, and this increase has been accompanied by a diversification of the research field. This study focuses on one aspect of this development: it analyses how citation network structures within the field have developed over time, and whether science communication research shows signs of becoming a research field or a discipline in its own right. Employing a co-citation analysis of scholarly publications published between 1996 and 2015, it assesses to what extent a coherent communication network exists within science communication research. The results show a field with a diverse internal structure and clear internal changes over time which suggest an increasing emancipation of the field.

06/08/2018

“Science crowdfunding” is a research funding system in which members of the public make small financial contributions towards a research project via the Internet. We compared the more common research process involving public research funding with science crowdfunding. In the former, academic-peer communities review the research carried out whereas the Crowd Community, an aggregation of backers, carries out this function in the latter. In this paper, we propose that science crowdfunding can be successfully used to generate “crowd-supported science” by means of this Crowd Community.

30/07/2018

The National Center for Science Education’s Science Booster Club
Program piloted a no-conflict approach to free, informal science activities
focused on climate change or evolution, holding 64 community events at
two sites over the course of 15 months, engaging with more than 70,000
participants. In the participating communities science literacy increased
over time as did community engagement as measured by local financial
support, requests for programming, and event attendance.

24/07/2018

World’s Fairs and scientific-technological theme parks have been
propitious places for the communication of science and technology through
modernity. This work addresses the issue of the construction of public
discourse about the future within these sites, as well as the changing role
attributed to science and technology as mediators in the relationships
between nature and society. In both fairs and parks, science and
technology play a leading role in the construction of the discourse about
the desirable and achievable future. The practices of science
communication and technology have specific forms, strategies and
objectives, depending on the purposes of the discourse enunciators at
different historical moments. This is exemplified through two cases: the
1939 New York World’s Fair and the EPCOT center in the U.S.

16/07/2018

Communicating about environmental risks requires understanding and
addressing stakeholder needs, perspectives, and anticipated uses for
communication products and decision-support tools. This paper
demonstrates how long-term dialogue between scientists and stakeholders
can be facilitated by repeated stakeholder focus groups. We describe a
dialogic process for developing science-based decision-support tools as
part of a larger sea level rise research project in the Gulf of Mexico. We
demonstrate how focus groups can be used effectively in tool development,
discuss how stakeholders plan to use tools for decision-making and
broader public outreach, and describe features that stakeholders perceive
would make products more usable.

09/07/2018

Despite low public knowledge of synthetic biology, it is the focus of prominent government and academic ethics debates. We examine the “NY Times” media coverage of synthetic biology. Our results suggest that the story about synthetic biology remains ambiguous. We found this in four areas — 1) on the question of whether the field raises ethical concerns, 2) on its relationship to genetic engineering, 3) on whether or not it threatens ‘nature’, and 4) on the temporality of these concerns. We suggest that this ambiguity creates conditions in which there becomes no reason for the public at large to become involved.

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