This article provides a starting position and scene-setter for an invited commentary series on science communication and public intellectualism. It begins by briefly considering what intellectualism and public intellectualism are, before discussing their relationship with science communication, especially in academia. It ends with a call to science communication academics and practitioners to either become more active in challenging the status quo, or to help support those who wish to by engendering a professional environment that encourages risk-taking and speaking-out in public about critical social issues.


Much of science communication is peer-to-peer communication in collaborative networks for innovation from the fuzzy front-end of innovation until the marketing back-end. Scientists and engineers at meetings tables talking about new developments. Or scientists and engineers in collaboration with industry and policy makers, discussing various scenarios for implementation of e.g. health care services. However, this focus on science communication 'within the action' of uncertain development of science and technology and its attached academic domains such as innovation studies, high-tech marketing and branding, is not often discussed in the science communication literature. Lacking these considerations at this micro-level communication, means we have an incomplete picture of the ways that discourses develop and are shaped by actors, particularly during the upstream phases of innovation.


This commentary seeks to spark further discussion on the continuing professional development in science communication, presenting comments from practitioners who were asked to reflect on the competences and skills their profession requires, and to envisage what kind of training might provide them. This introduction presents some common issues that emerge within the comments: the necessity to face rapidly evolving professional landscapes, to answer to new missions and roles, to consider the growing impact and potential of new technologies. Alternative training methods are also discussed.


The prevalent lack of research on the interrelations between science, research and popular culture led to the organization of the first International Conference on Science and Research in Popular Culture #POPSCI2015, which took place at Alpen-Adria-Universität in Klagenfurt, Austria, from 17--18 September 2015. The aim of the conference was to bring together not only science communication researchers with an interest in popular culture, but also other scholars, scientists and researchers, artists, media professionals and members from the general public. In this issue of JCOM we present four invited commentaries which are all based on presentations at the conference.


Open Science may become the next scientific revolution, but still lingers in a pre-paradigmatic phase, characterised by the lack of established definitions and domains. Certainly, Open Science requires a new vision of the way to produce and share scientific knowledge, as well as new skills. Therefore, education plays a crucial role in supporting this cultural change along the path of science. This is the basic principle inspiring the collection of essays published in this issue of JCOM, which deals with many subjects ranging from open access to the public engagement in scientific research, from open data to the social function of preprint servers for the physicians' community. These are issues that go along with the targets of the FOSTER project (Facilitate Open Science Training for European Research) funded by the European Union, which has provided interesting food for thought in order to write this commentary.


The drive for impact from research projects presents a dilemma for science communication researchers and practitioners — should public engagement be regarded only as a mechanism for providing evidence of the impact of research or as itself a form of impact? This editorial describes the curation of five commentaries resulting from the recent international conference
‘Science in Public: Research, Practice, Impact’. The commentaries reveal the issues science communicators may face in implementing public engagement with science that has an impact; from planning and co-producing projects with impact in mind, to organising and operating activities which meet the needs of our publics, and finally measuring and evaluating the effects on scientists and publics in order to ‘capture impact’.


Science and activism are terms which are usually seen as quite separate. Yet, they are inextricably linked, even more so as techno scientific progress permeates contemporary society. The five commentaries in this series provide insights for a discussion about how the (apparent) separation between “value laden” activism and “value free” science is in fact very thin, and how science communication can play a key role in ensuring reflexivity and self criticism in science.


This set of comments reports experiences from a recent “science-meets-arts”-project in Germany, in which students from the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg (HFBK) shared day-to-day life in climate research groups for several months. The project was envisioned as a process of mutual inspiration with the aim of producing a joint exhibition and symposium at the end. This paper introduces the project as well as the subsequent commentaries and also presents some of my own observations.


The cultural phenomenon of ‘science festivals’ is ever expanding throughout the world, as universities, city and regional governments, and science engagement professionals alike embrace the concept of a focused ‘celebration’ of science. In the past however science festivals have been criticized for neglecting underrepresented audiences. This special issue explores the extent to which current science festivals have managed to engage with diverse publics, and identifies the key challenges facing the future of science festivals, most notably the need for deeper research into the impacts of science festivals.


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