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Nov 24, 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 30, 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

Sep 30, 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 01, 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

Sep 01, 2020 Commentary
From actors to space, through processes: reflections from co-production and commoning

by Paola Alfaro - d'Alençon and Horacio Torrent

Under new state-led governance models, a new generation of city entrepreneurs seeks to define work and living environments to meet their needs and aspirations in a collaborative way. In this field, international discourses are debating private investors as key players in urban development and the simultaneous withdrawal/absence of the state. This has led to more complex networks of participating actors and conflictive urban development patterns. Strategies are needed to understand the influence of commons-based space production. From the research project DFG-KOPRO-Int, the Authors aim to define learnings from urban development and housing projects, involved actors, processes and material quality of the projects.

Volume 19 • Issue 04 • 2020

Jun 16, 2020 Commentary
How a climate change sceptic politician changed their mind

by Cobi Calyx and Jenny Low

This is a story of how an Australian in a position of power changed their mind about climate change, in response to deliberations of a panel of scientists broadcast on television. The politician then put on record their thought processes in changing mind, sparking public response. The unexpectedly positive outcomes of a speech to parliament and role of social media in shaping action are explored. Given Australia contributes disproportionately to greenhouse gas emissions, this story of science and political communication and has global value in climate change research.

Volume 19 • Issue 03 • 2020

Sep 30, 2019 Commentary
What role can Athena SWAN play in gender equality and science communication?

by Clare Wilkinson

This essay discusses how gender-focused culture change initiatives developed for science (like Athena SWAN) might offer models for science communication. Such initiatives can seek to mobilise change amongst university departments and practices, but there are also potential pitfalls in such approaches. Using experiences in a department at UWE Bristol as a basis, the article will consider whether such schemes in science offer potential for science communication to reflect on its own gender imbalances.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

Jul 29, 2019 Article
Avoiding post-truth environmental conflict in New Zealand: communicating uncertainties in endangered species science

by Anna Palliser and Giles Dodson

Keyes [2004, p. 15] says: “In the post-truth era we don't just have truth or lies but a third category of ambiguous statements that are not exactly the truth but fall short of a lie”. In this paper about Hector's and Maui dolphin management in New Zealand, we argue that some scientific knowledge about these species presented and disseminated in ways that equate to this third category and as such may be classed as ‘post-truth type communication’. This generates citizen mistrust in science, scientists and government agencies and inflames conflict among informed stakeholders. We argue trust may be rebuilt by a combination of deliberative approaches to environmental governance, transparency about uncertainties, information gaps and divergent scientific opinions, and reformulation of normal scientific approaches and assumptions to those advocated by post-normal science.

Volume 18 • Issue 04 • 2019

Jun 14, 2019 Article
Speaking with one voice for climate science — climate researchers' opinion on the consensus policy of the IPCC

by Imke Hoppe and Simone Rödder

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) proceeds on the assumption that scientific consensus is a tool for successful climate communication. While ‘speaking with one voice’ has contributed to the Panel's success in putting climate change on the public and political agenda, the consensus policy is also contested, as our literature analysis (n=106) demonstrates. The arguments identified thereby inform a survey of climate scientists (n=138), who are the ones responsible for realising the policy. The data indicate moderate support for the consensus policy but significantly more in traditional climate sciences than in social sciences, life- and geosciences.

Volume 18 • Issue 03 • 2019 • Special Issue: Communication at the Intersection of Science and Politics, 2019

Jun 14, 2019 Article
Science and technology for the people? On the framing of innovation in policy discourses in India and in EU

by Anwesha Chakraborty and Rita Giuffredi

In 2010 both India and Europe launched new strategies focused on innovation, for economic growth and for addressing societal challenges: the Decade of Innovation from the Indian Government and the Innovation Union from the European Union. This piqued our interest in investigating how these two political entities have envisioned the concept of innovation, particularly in studying and comparing how they have focused on people, both as final beneficiaries (and thus principal legitimisers) of policy actions, and as actors themselves in the innovation process. Per contra we found, in institutional documents, very different descriptions of how to adequately realise citizens' involvement, spanning from the abiding reference to people's inclusion in the Indian case to the varied discourses on public engagement in EU, down to the passive role accorded to citizens in some Expert Groups reports. The comparison between the understandings of innovation (and innovators) in the two contexts can enlarge and refine the argumentative and metaphoric repertoire of science communicators. Further, it can form the basis of a mature and shared debate on the role that knowledge production and innovation policies can and should play in the public governance of science and technology.

Volume 18 • Issue 03 • 2019 • Special Issue: Communication at the Intersection of Science and Politics, 2019