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Feb 19, 2024 Practice Insight
University-led dialogues with society: balancing informing and listening?

by Nina de Roo, Tamara Metze and Cees Leeuwis

In response to a growing understanding that scientific knowledge is not always trusted at face value, many universities organise dialogues to `open up' to society. In four exploratory case studies at the Dutch Wageningen University & Research, we looked into the adherence to dialogue principles and the roles that researchers performed while engaging in dialogues. We found that researchers face three challenges when interacting with societal stakeholders in dialogues: (1) moving from knowledge provider to “letting in” and listening to different perspectives (2) balancing attention toward knowledge with attention toward values and emotions (3) navigating different aspired and perceived roles of researchers in dialogue (e.g. Pure Scientist versus Issue Advocate).

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Dec 16, 2016 Commentary
Communication as intermediation for socio-technical innovation

by Cees Leeuwis and Noelle Aarts

The academic interest in 'science and technology communication' has evolved from different societal domains and fields of application, giving rise to different scholarly traditions. This contribution introduces current issues and agendas in a field that has its origin at the interface of (agricultural) innovation studies, rural development sociology and the communication sciences. The paper starts with a brief sketch of the history of the field. When compared to earlier approaches, current thinking about 'communication, innovation and development' pays greater attention to limitations in the potential of orchestrating change and innovation in pre-planned directions, and to political and institutional dimensions of both communication and innovation. In relation to this, new lines of questioning are discussed. The article ends with a reflection on the usefulness of the thinking from different historical periods today. It is argued that approaches to science and technology communication need to be matched with the level of complexity of the issue at hand.

Volume 15 • Issue 06 • 2016