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May 20, 2024 Practice Insight
Hands-on climate engagement: principles for effective hands-on activities and demonstrations

by Angus Croak and Graham J. Walker

Communicating climate change to foster engagement and action is a challenge for science communication requiring novel, creative and diverse methods. In this practice reflection, we explore the potential of climate change related hands-on activities and demonstrations. Following a rapidly implemented COVID-19 project creating climate activities and workshops in the Pacific, we reflect on the underlying qualities of such activities to generate principles to guide design and facilitation of hands-on climate engagement. Through a fusing of theory, literature and practice, five principles are generated: personal and collective relevance, balancing risks/impacts with solutions, deliberative discussion and collaborative/participatory critical thinking, intrinsic motivation and positive emotional engagement, and opportunities for agency and action — with inclusive approaches providing foundation. We then describe applying the principles to refine content and create new activities.

Volume 23 • Issue 03 • 2024

May 08, 2024 Book Review
Amplifying informal science learning: rethinking research, design, and engagement

by Graham J. Walker

An intriguing book on informal science learning in all its cultural and geographic diversity, deftly balancing theory, practice and the wondrous space in-between.

Volume 23 • Issue 03 • 2024

Mar 28, 2022 Practice Insight
For real-world outcomes you need real-world training: participatory capacity building in science communication

by Graham Walker

Concepts underpinning participatory science communication have much to offer science communication training and capacity building. This paper investigates a capacity building program with 15 science communicators from nine African countries involved in a six-week program in Australia. Data was collected via surveys, observations, informal interactions and ongoing relationships tracking program outcomes. Key features with a participatory nature included: holistic programs giving participants diverse skills and entry points; ensuring participant's freedom, agency, autonomy and self-efficacy; real-world networking as a self-directed participatory process; participant-led design processes to build skills for creating programs; and, embedding training in real-world contexts with deliberately selected publics.

Volume 21 • Issue 02 • 2022 • Special Issue Participatory science communication for transformation (PCST2020+1)

May 10, 2021 Article
Reorienting science communication towards communities

by Lindy A. Orthia, Merryn McKinnon, John Noel Viana and Graham Walker

Communities are rarely seen as the ideal level at which to focus science communication efforts, compared to the individual, psychological or mass, societal levels. Yet evidence from allied fields suggests building interpersonal relationships with specific communities over time is key to meaningful engagement, so orienting science communication towards communities is warranted. In this paper, we argue this case. We review previous studies, identifying three existing models of community-oriented science communication, which we label ‘neighbourly’, ‘problem-solving’ and ‘brokering’. We illustrate the effectiveness of the ‘problem-solving’ approach and the desirable ideal of ‘brokering’ using recent examples of community-oriented science communication from Australia.

Volume 20 • Issue 03 • 2021 • Special Issue: Re-examining Science Communication: models, perspectives, institutions, 2021

Feb 17, 2020 Article
Models to build capacity for African science centres and science communication: needs and assets

by Graham Walker, Leapotswe Bontle BANTSI, Siphesihle Bukhosini, Knowledge Chikundi, Akash Dusrath, Martin Kafeero, Bhamini Kamudu, Kenneth Monjero, Kabelo Nick Moswetsi, Sandile Rikhotso, Marthinus J. Schwartz and Puleng Tsie

Science communication is proliferating in the developing world, however, with respect to science centres, as a whole Africa is being left behind. Here 15 participants in a capacity building program are investigated using traditional needs-based and contemporary asset-based development conceptualisations. These development theories parallel deficit and participatory approaches, respectively, within science communication and demonstrate synergies between the fields. Data showed staffing, funding, governments, host institutions, and audiences are prominent needs and assets, networks are a major asset, and identified other influential factors. Analysis suggests a coordinated model involving individuals, host institutions and governments to facilitate growth of African science centres.

Volume 19 • Issue 01 • 2020