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Mar 28, 2022 Practice Insight
Valuing visitors' knowledge: the experience of Association Traces at the crossroads between science communication, participatory activities and social inclusion

by Matteo Merzagora, Claudia Aguirre Rios, Paul Boniface, Clementine Bricout and Celine Martineau

In this “practice insight” we present a series of experiences run by Association Traces, injecting participatory approaches into science engagement activities by valuing the knowledge of the public rather than focusing on their ignorance. Starting from the observation that a sort of hybridization is occurring between cultural activities and public engagement with science on one side, and co-creation and participatory activities on the other, we provide some insight on the features of each approach. Examples are then used to highlight the potential value of this hybridization: as a way of making participatory activity more recognizable and accessible to a wide audience; to ensure that scientists have a professional interest in engaging in the communication activity; to raise a sense of ownership and empowerment in the audience, etc. These examples will eventually show that participation may lead to science communication practices that are socially-inclusive and/or productive for research, and ideally both.

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

Jun 21, 2017 Editorial
Science centres and science engagement activities as research facilities: blurring the frontiers between knowledge production and knowledge sharing

by Matteo Merzagora

The future challenges within science communication lie in a 'grey area' where the frontiers between production and sharing of knowledge are blurred. An area in which we can satisfy at the same time and within the same activity the autonomous interests of researchers and those of other stakeholders, including lay publics. Settings are emerging, where we can provide real contribution to scientific research and at the same time facilitate the publics in their process of hacking scientific knowledge to serve autonomously defined and often unpredictable functions. Some are linked to research institutes, others to science centres, others are precisely inbetween. This editorial explores why these special places are needed, and present some case studies, leading to the need of interpreting science culture centres as research facilities.

Volume 16 • Issue 02 • 2017

May 06, 2014 Commentary
Socially inclusive science communication

by Luisa Massarani and Matteo Merzagora

Social inclusion is an emerging preoccupation in the science communication field. The political value of science communication (e.g. in terms of empowerment) and the necessity to address all audiences has always been considered, but in recent times the participation agenda has enriched the rationale and methodologies of the communication of science: social inclusion is not only an issue of access to knowledge, but also of governance and co-production.

Volume 13 • Issue 02 • 2014

Dec 11, 2013 Commentary
Listening and empowering: children and science communication

by Matteo Merzagora and Tricia Jenkins

In the editorial of this issue of JCOM, we underline how children are on one hand one of the main target group for science communication, and on the other hand a largely excluded group in the shift from a linear diffusion model to a dialogic model of science communication. In this series of comments, stimulated by the EU - FP7-Science in society project `SiS-Catalyst - 2013 children as change agents for science in society' (a four year programme aimed at crossing the science in society and the social inclusion agendas), we would like to explore methods and approaches that can ensure that, in science communication contexts, children can be listened to, that they are given the chance to express their view, and that they can be empowered in building their own relationship with science, and thus a sense of ownership for scientific knowledge.

Volume 12 • Issue 3 • 2013

Dec 11, 2013 Editorial
The challenges and the opportunities of letting children have their say

by Matteo Merzagora and Paola Rodari

Many science communication activities identify children as their main target. There are several reasons for this, even if, quite often, they are not expressed explicitly, as if children were a somehow “natural” public for science. On the contrary, we can observe a high level of complexity in the children agenda to engage with science, and in the science institution agendas for targeting children. But this does not seem to be followed but the same level of complexity in devising science engagement activities for children. The profound transformation of the scope and understanding of science communication that we have observed in recent years, in which keywords as dialogue, participation and empowerment have become essential, has only partially touched the younger public, which remains in most cases considered as a spectator for science.

Volume 12 • Issue 3 • 2013

Jun 24, 2013 Editorial
New directions for JCOM

by Luisa Massarani, Matteo Merzagora, Nico Pitrelli, Brian Trench and Bora Zivkovic

A new editorial board is guiding JCOM through a period of change and here opens out the discussion on what JCOM has become and what it could or should become in the future. The journal's readers are invited to make their contributions.

Volume 12 • Issue 02 • 2013

Mar 21, 2013 Commentary
JCOM — what do I expect form a science communication journal

by Matteo Merzagora

The JCOM I would appreciate reading should address in real time the emerging trends and pressing issues concerning Science in society; it would be targeted not only to researchers in STS et similia, but also to the constantly expanding universe of science communication practitioners; it would make sure to avoid the hidden forms of social exclusion which are dangerously lurking behind all communication activity, including science communication.

Volume 12 • Issue 01 • 2013

Mar 20, 2009 Book Review
Science on air: a journey through early science programmes in US radio

by Matteo Merzagora

“Science on the air” is an enjoyable and extremely well researched account of the origins of science programming in north American radio. From 1923 to the mid-50s, LaFollette takes us in a journey through the life and programs of many scientists, journalists and storytellers who chosed radio as a medium for science communication. A journey who allow the reader to visit many success, but also many incomprehension and missed opportunities, mainly by scientific institutions, who often failed to understand the potential of radio as a tool for science communication. It is a fully enjoyable journey, that leave the reader with an appetite to know how the US situation relates to other wonderful experiences around the world in the same years, and how those pioneer experiences influenced today's landscape.

Volume 8 • Issue 01 • 2009

Dec 19, 2008 Commentary
Trained to interact: echoes from the Workshop Sul-Americano de Mediação em Museus e Centros de Ciência

by Luisa Massarani, Paola Rodari and Matteo Merzagora

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).

Volume 7 • Issue 04 • 2008

Jun 21, 2007 Commentary
The Lisbon post-its: how science-in-society issues were reflected in the last ECSITE meetings

by Paola Rodari and Matteo Merzagora

ECSITE is the European network of science centres and museums ( The ECSITE Annual Conference, attended every year by several hundreds of professionals in science museums and science centres (870 at the last edition), and the ECSITE director forum, where full members of the association discuss on focused topics, are excellent observation points. Looking at what goes on in these meetings allows to track what is high on the agenda of the science-centre community, how the focus of interest moves, what are the main concerns of museum professionals.

Volume 6 • Issue 02 • 2007