Essay

17/03/2016

In recent years, citizen science has gained popularity not only in the scientific community but also with the general public. The potential it projects in fostering an open and participatory approach to science, decreasing the distance between science and society, and contributing to the wider goal of an inclusive society is being explored by scientists, science communicators, educators, policy makers and related stakeholders. The public's participation in citizen science projects is still often reduced to data gathering and data manipulation such as classification of data. However, the citizen science landscape is much broader and diverse, inter alia due to the participation opportunities offered by latest ICT. The emergence of new forms of collaboration and grassroots initiatives is currently being experienced. In an open consultation process that led to the "White Paper on Citizen Science for Europe", the support of a wide range of project types and innovative forms of participation in science was requested. In this paper we argue for mechanisms that encourage a variety of approaches, promote emerging and creative concepts and widen the perspectives for social innovation.

21/01/2016

Since 2009 Vetenskap & Allmänhet (Public & Science, VA) coordinates an annual mass experiment as part of ForskarFredag — the Swedish events on the European Researchers' Night. Through the experiments, thousands of Swedish students from preschool to upper secondary school have contributed to the development of scientific knowledge on, for example, the acoustic environment in classrooms, children's and adolescents' perception of hazardous environments and the development of autumn leaves in deciduous trees. The aim is to stimulate scientific literacy and an interest in science while generating scientific output. The essay discusses how the mass experiments can contribute to encouraging scientific citizenship.

29/09/2015

The Red de Popularización de la Ciencia y la Tecnología en América latina y el Caribe (RedPOP) (Latin American and Caribbean Network for the Popularization of Science and Technology) was created 25 years ago as an expression of a movement that started in the 1960s in favour of a scientific education. The purpose of this movement was to incorporate science into the general knowledge of the population by communicating science through different media, products and spaces such as museums and science centres. Since then, the movement has acquired considerable strength in Latin America and RedPOP has been a key factor to the development of this activity in the region, although several challenges still have to be addressed.

29/09/2015

King et al. [2015] argue that ‘emphasis on impact is obfuscating the valuable role of evaluation’ in informal science learning and public engagement (p. 1). The article touches on a number of important issues pertaining to the role of evaluation, informal learning, science communication and public engagement practice. In this critical response essay, I highlight the article’s tendency to construct a straw man version of ‘impact evaluation’ that is impossible to achieve, while exaggerating the value of simple forms of feedback-based evaluation exemplified in the article. I also identify a problematic tendency, evident in the article, to view the role of ‘impact evaluation’ in advocacy terms rather than as a means of improving practice. I go through the evaluation example presented in the article to highlight alternative, impact-oriented evaluation strategies, which would have addressed the targeted outcomes more appropriately than the methods used by King et al. [2015]. I conclude that impact evaluation can be much more widely deployed to deliver essential practical insights for informal learning and public engagement practitioners.

25/08/2015

This essay seeks to explain what the “science of science communication” is by doing it. Surveying studies of cultural cognition and related dynamics, it demonstrates how the form of disciplined observation, measurement, and inference distinctive of scientific inquiry can be used to test rival hypotheses on the nature of persistent public conflict over societal risks; indeed, it argues that satisfactory insight into this phenomenon can be achieved only by these means, as opposed to the ad hoc story-telling dominant in popular and even some forms of scholarly discourse. Synthesizing the evidence, the essay proposes that conflict over what is known by science arises from the very conditions of individual freedom and cultural pluralism that make liberal democratic societies distinctively congenial to science. This tension, however, is not an “inherent contradiction”; it is a problem to be solved — by the science of science communication understood as a “new political science” for perfecting enlightened self-government.

19/08/2015

The prioritization of neglected diseases in the policy making framework requires heightened advocacy [WHO, 2006]. Mass media positive publicity is among approaches that can be used to achieve this. This paper discusses practical use of mass media to do publicity and advocacy for a neglected disease and its vector. It uniquely presents online links to the analyzed newspaper and television news and opinion articles on tsetse and Trypanosomiasis. The paper shares entry points into mass media advocacy from a lessons learned perspective and notes the importance of understanding how the mass media works in order to achieve advocacy of neglected diseases using sleeping sickness as a case study. 

24/07/2015

Communication about technology has long been neglected within the field of science and technology communication. This visual exploratory study focuses on how users can communicate with and about technology in public places through warning signs posted on technological devices.
Three broad categories of messages have been identified: bad design, malfunctioning and disciplining users. By analyzing examples within each category, we suggest that studying these communicative situations can be a key to understanding how users are engaged in continuous, elaborate and sometimes even conflicting framing of technological devices (e.g. with regard to their purpose, appropriate uses, shifting boundaries between functioning/malfunctioning); how such framing, in turn, can be used to readjust/realign social behavior and organizational routines.

09/07/2015

The standardisation and selectivity of information were characteristics of science journalism in the printed medium that the digital editions of journals have inherited. This essay explores this fact from the international perspective, with a special focus on the Spanish case.

31/03/2015

After the first paradigm shift from the deficit model to two-way communication, the field of science communication is in need of a second paradigm shift. This second shift sees communication as an inherently distributed element in the socio-technical system of science and technology development. Science communication is understood both from a systems perspective and its consecutive parts, in order to get a grip on the complex and dynamic reality of science, technology development and innovation in which scientists, industrial and governmental partners and the lay public collaborate. This essay reflects on the under-development of system thinking in science communication and the need to fix this. Legitimation for the second paradigm shift is found in the ‘crisis in social sciences’ that has led to a revival of system theory to balance the deterministic thinking in our grounding discipline. This essay concludes with the idea of a ‘Communication for Innovation-Lab’ as an experimental setting in which whole/part thinking in science communication can be shaped according to this second paradigm shift, forming seed crystals for future developments.

19/12/2014

This essay intends to present and reflect on the production and reception of sound language styles in a radio programme discussing science called Universidade das Criancas UFMG (UFMG Children’s University). This programme, aimed at children, is broadcast on the UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais) Educational Radio Station, located in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

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