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Jan 29, 2023 Book Review
Handy guide and passionate call to engage

by Cissi Askwall

Andrew J. Hoffman, Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, has written “The Engaged Scholar — Expanding the Impact of Academic Research in Today's World” (2021 Stanford University Press). According to the author, most researchers want to make a difference, but academic institutions often do not value public engagement, leading to disengaged scientists. Hoffman gives and reexamines arguments for why scholars should engage with other parts of society. He conveys several tips on how to do it and encourages researchers to take part in public debate. The limitations of the current evaluation system are also scrutinized, and new measures of impact discussed. The book is worth reading for academic leaders and researchers, as well as science communicators and science journalists.

Volume 22 • Issue 01 • 2023

Aug 07, 2022 Conference Review
‘‘The future is now’’ — a European perspective on the future of science communication

by Erinma Ochu, Pedro russo and Ionica Smeets

The Future of SciComm 2.0 conference was a one-day event in Brussels on April 26th 2022. Focusing on the future of European science communication, sixty participants from twelve countries with different expertise discussed the current challenges and possible solutions for the field. Key themes centred around disinformation, communicating global challenges, evidence-based practices and institutional structures woven through the plenary opening, afternoon workshops and the closing public panel discussion. The conclusion is a need for an European science communication ecosystem that is transdisciplinary, connected and cooperative in practice, weaving between policy, research and industry. Finally, citizen science and open science could be included as scholarly praxes to facilitate societal interconnectivity.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022

Jun 09, 2022 Article
Levelling the playing field: lessons from sport on re-framing science engagement as a benefit to the individual

by Lindsay Keith and Gary Kerr

The workforces of the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) industries suffer from skills gaps and lack diversity. Science engagement activities often try to solve these problems through targeting audiences under-represented in the STEM workforces. There is limited data, however, to suggest that these engagement efforts are successful in translating into more diverse workforces. We draw upon Unicef’s ‘Sport for Development’ model and propose a new conceptual framework: ‘Science Engagement for Good’. This frames science engagement activities around the benefits to individuals, families and communities, rather than the benefits to STEM industries, the economy or society at large.

Volume 21 • Issue 04 • 2022 • Special Issue: Responsible science communication across the globe

Mar 27, 2022 Essay
Participatory science communication for transformation in Colombia

by Mabel Ayure and Ricardo Triana

This essay approaches the question: ‘What does participatory science communication for transformation mean in Colombia?’ The answer comes from an examination of the public policy instruments that have promoted participatory scientific communication through the concept of social appropriation of science, technology, and innovation (STI). In the gaze of these public policy instruments, it is evident how the social appropriation of STI has been intended as a means of transformation.

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

Nov 14, 2021 Article
Follow the scientists? How beliefs about the practice of science shaped COVID-19 views

by Thomas G. Safford, Emily H. Whitmore and Lawrence C. Hamilton

“Follow the science” became the mantra for responding to COVID-19 pandemic. However, for the public this also meant “follow the scientists”, and this led to uneasiness as some viewed scientists as not credible. We investigate how beliefs about the way scientists develop their findings affect pandemic-related views. Our analysis shows that beliefs about scientists' objectivity predict views regrading coronavirus-related risks, behavioral changes, and policy priorities. While political party identity also predicts views about COVID-19-related concerns, these vary by political leaders whose approaches embraced versus dismissed science-based strategies, highlighting the importance of perceptions of scientists in shaping pandemic-related attitudes and beliefs.

Volume 20 • Issue 07 • 2021

Sep 28, 2021 Article
Understanding knowledge and perceptions of genome editing technologies: a textual analysis of major agricultural stakeholder groups

by Matthew Robbins, Christopher Calabrese, Jieyu Ding Featherstone and George A. Barnett

The promise of CRISPR-Cas9 (CRISPR) genomic editing applied to agriculture is promoted widely by scientists. We utilized textual analysis methods to compare perceptions of this innovation held by various stakeholder groups — scientists, policymakers, farmers, and the general public. Results reveal distinctions in the semantic structure and concepts emphasized across groups. Scientists and policymakers exhibited a high level of technical sophistication while emphasizing the potential societal benefits, while farmers and the general public focused on perceived personal benefits and familiarity with the issue. These results will aid development of message strategies bridging the gap between the scientific community and key publics.

Volume 20 • Issue 05 • 2021

Nov 23, 2020 Commentary
Activists as alternative science communicators. The NGO “Danish Seed Savers”: science communicators and activists but questionably alternative

by Louise Windfeldt

This commentary describes the work of the NGO Danish Seed Savers, working with heritage plants, highly prioritized by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The Danish Seed Savers act as activists, when they work to change the implementation of EU seed-legislation. At the same time, they have a seat in the Danish Committee on Plant Genetic Resources and help the Ministry of Food to protect and communicate about heritage plants. The commentary reflects on the role of the Danish Seed Savers. They are science communicators and activists but asks: are they alternative?

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020

Sep 29, 2020 Practice Insight
Complexity, transparency and time pressure: practical insights into science communication in times of crisis

by Jana Lasser, Verena Ahne, Georg Heiler, Peter Klimek, Hannah Metzler, Tobias Reisch, Martin Sprenger, Stefan Thurner and Johannes Sorger

A global crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic that started in early 2020 poses significant challenges for how research is conducted and communicated. We present four case studies from the perspective of an interdisciplinary research institution that switched to “corona-mode” during the first two months of the crisis, focussing all its capacities on COVID-19-related issues, communicating to the public directly and via media, as well as actively advising the national government. The case studies highlight the challenges posed by the increased time pressure, high demand for transparency, and communication of complexity and uncertainty. The article gives insights into how these challenges were addressed in our research institution and how science communication in general can be managed during a crisis.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020

Sep 29, 2020 Article
Exit only: harms from silencing employee voice

by Karen Adkins

The nationwide shortage of PPE for health care workers has been well documented. Reporting on this issue has been complicated by hospitals' imposition of gag orders on physicians and health care workers. There are harms that result from imposing these gag orders that go beyond the obvious harms to public and employee health and safety. Using Hirschman's ‘Exit, Voice, and Loyalty’ (1970) as a framework demonstrates that these orders represent a dangerous concentration of power in employer hands — health care workers are reduced to functionaries. Hirschman's argument, in part, is that organisations should seek to balance the availability of exit, voice, and loyalty for employees. Restricting employee options in morally untenable situations to exit only leads to direct and indirect harms. These gag orders are a pernicious practice, and bring with them long-term negative implications for employee morale, employee effectiveness, and public service.

Volume 19 • Issue 05 • 2020 • Special Issue: COVID-19 and science communication, Part I, 2020

Aug 31, 2020 Commentary
Should science communication become part of a discipline of integration and implementation sciences (i2S)?

by Gabriele Bammer

Science communication is essential for inter- and trans-disciplinary research on complex societal and environmental problems. Two aspects are explored as examples: 1) helping teams understand the systemic nature of such problems and 2) helping collaborations run effectively. Integration and implementation sciences (i2S) is a new discipline that addresses such aspects of dealing with complex problems that, notably, are not covered by existing disciplines. By becoming part of i2S, science communication will be linked with other communities of practice, resulting in an overall improvement in the ability of research to effectively contribute to tackling complex societal and environmental problems.

Volume 19 • Issue 04 • 2020