Comment

19/06/2009

In present times it would not be appropriate to say art made a “debut” in science centres, as it has been a feature since the beginning of their history, and it appeared precisely in the ‘parent’ science centre, the Exploratorium. However, now it is time to check the progress. There is unrest for this issue, as in history-making times, and it is worthwhile to follow the new developments and hear the words of the coordinators of the artistic activities in science centres and, more in general, in science museums, and also of the artists involved in the process. The goal is to promote a debate on the final results of this phenomenon and on what will happen next. Also, emphasis should be put on the importance for each museum to define right from the start an ‘art policy’, even a complex one, but somehow structured, that may be employed at many levels according to the needs of the museum itself.

20/03/2009

Science, politics, industry, media, state-run and private organisations, private citizens: everyone has their own demands, their own heritage of knowledge, thoughts, opinions, aspirations, needs. Different worlds that interact, question one another, discuss; in one word: they communicate. It is a complicated process that requires professionals «who clearly understand the key aspects of the transmission of scientific knowledge to society through the different essential communication channels for multiple organizations». The purpose of this commentary is to cast some light upon the goals, the philosophy and the organisation behind some European and extra-European Master’s degrees in science communication. We have asked the directors of each of them to describe their founding elements, their origins, their specific features, their structure, their goals, the reasons why they were established and the evolution they have seen over their history.

19/12/2008

The initiatives focusing the professional development of explainers are multiplying around the world, building an informal network of researchers, museums managers and directors, explainers, and regional/continental networks, as THE group, the Thematic Human Interface and Explainers group of Ecsite.The Workshop Sul-Americano de Mediação em Museus e Centros de Ciência e Escola de Mediação em Museus e Centros de Ciência, which took place in Rio de Janeiro in September 2008, was a further important step along this path. We believe it is worthwhile to offer to Jcom readers some of the workshop contributions concerning the training of explainers, to which we added an overview of the general problem presented by Lynn Uyen Tran (Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley).

19/09/2008

The world, all at once, has become a small world. Not only owing to TV, satellites and the Internet that allow us to jump from side to side of our planet in a click. But also owing to a phenomenon that evokes dry lands, devastating rains, tsunamis and hurricanes, torrid summers and melting glaciers: global warming. In the heated argument on this issue with so many people talking, in the past few years also artists have made their rising voice be heard. Artists-popularisers, aware of their role and of the considerable communication potential of the art medium. Because “One salient image, sculpture or event can speak louder than volumes of scientific data”.

20/06/2008

“Web 2.0” is the mantra enthusiastically repeated in the past few years on anything concerning the production of culture, dialogue and online communication. Even science is changing, along with the processes involving the communication, collaboration and cooperation created through the web, yet rooted in some of its historical features of openness. For this issue, JCOM has asked some experts on the most recent changes in science to analyse the potential and the contradictions lying in online collaborative science. The new open science feeds on the opportunity to freely contribute to knowledge production, sharing not only data, but also software and hardware. But it is open also to the outside, where citizens use Web 2.0 instruments to discuss about science in a horizontal way.

21/03/2008

“Dialogue” is the trendy word of the moment. The word “dialogue” can be found in the call to access European funding, in the works of Science Communication scholars, in presentations of science education projects, in the mission of new science centres. “Dialogue” is also a word reported by mass media regarding politicians' and scientists' speeches on general issues as well as on local or specific problems such as environment, health, energy, etc... This new magic word is frequently repeated and opens many doors (or perhaps it simply helps to make a good impression). However, there is the risk of ignoring the real meaning and functioning of the word. JCOM is therefore asking a number of experts involved in “dialogue” the following questions: what does it really mean? What are the theoretical principles, the practical opportunities, but also the risks and limits of “dialogue”?

21/12/2007

In 2007, global investments in R&D have increased by 7% on the previous year and have reached an absolute historical peak, exceeding for the first time the threshold of 1,100 billion dollars (calculated in the hypothesis of a purchasing power parity between the currencies). The world invests in scientific research and technological development 2.1% of the wealth it produces. At the same time, there has been an increase in the exchange of high added-knowledge value goods and high tech represents now the most dynamic sector of the world economy.

20/09/2007

Two concepts seemingly distant from each other, scientific education and European citizenship, have been the basis for "SEDEC - Science Education for the Development of European Citizenship", a European project funded by the European Commission in the framework of the Socrates/Comenius programme, aiming at producing training material addressed to European teachers. Started in autumn 2005, the project will end in 2008 with an in-service training course for European teachers and educators.

21/06/2007

In a meta-analysis carried out in 2002, the two main associations of science centres and museums (ASTC, mainly US-centered, and ECSITE, mainly European) gathered all studies analysing the impact of science centres and museums on their local communities1. Four types of impact were identified: personal, social, political and economical. It was noticed that the vast majority of studies concentrated on the personal impact (that is, learning outcome, visitor satisfaction, etc.), while the latter three were largely neglected. The very fact of pointing this out, and many recent experiences - some of which are included in this commentary - show that there is now a shift of attention.

21/03/2007

In their contributions to this special issue, the British science writer Jon Turney and the American scholar Bruce Lewenstein discuss the validity of the book as a means for science communication in the era of the Internet, whereas the article by Vittorio Bo deals with scientific publishing in a broader sense.

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