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Aug 21, 2023 Essay
Looking back to launch forward: a self-reflexive approach to decolonising science education and communication in Africa

by Temilade Sesan and Ayodele Ibiyemi

The imbalance in the global scientific landscape resulting from the enduring legacy of colonialism in the south and the hegemony of scientific paradigms originating in the north is immense. Our paper makes a case for employing traditional knowledge systems and paradigms as tools for redressing this imbalance in African societies. To achieve this goal, the paper argues, scholars and science communicators must actively pursue a radical, “power-literate” agenda of scientific decolonisation on the continent. Central to this mission is the need for scholars to be equipped with a keen sense of the past — including an understanding of what worked for knowledge production and perpetuation in pre-colonial African societies — without which science education and communication in those societies will remain untethered from the realities of the present and their visions for the future. Concurrently, attention must be given to nurturing home-grown paradigms and platforms for research in higher education that are rigorous yet unencumbered by the age-long tendency to refract African experiences through northern lenses.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023

Aug 21, 2023 Essay
Response to: “Looking back to launch forward: a self-reflexive approach to decolonising science education and communication in Africa”. Decoloniality opens up new epistemic vistas for science communication

by Sujatha Raman

Decolonial perspectives open up epistemic and practical insights for science communication. Following critiques of a deficit-model framing of the field, science communication has been redefined as an inclusive cultural space of meaning-making around science. From a decolonial lens, however, a cultural perspective necessitates a fundamental reckoning with the historical and contemporary politics of knowledge claims, including the erasure and devaluation of entire knowledge-systems in the process of Westernization. In recognizing and learning from these histories, science communication can learn from parallel developments within the sciences. It can also learn from contributions made by decolonial scholars to the global challenge of navigating sustainable futures. This piece briefly discusses one such example, drawing from scholarship on the ontological cosmovision of Ubuntu and its relevance to climate change dilemmas today.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023

Aug 21, 2023 Essay
Response to: “Looking back to launch forward: a self-reflexive approach to decolonising science education and communication in Africa”. Recognizing and validating multiple knowledge ecologies

by Fabien Medvecky, Jennifer Metcalfe and Michelle Riedlinger

This is a response to Sesan and Ibiyemi's essay [2023], which rightly urges “scholars and science communicators” to resist the colonial legacy of science in African countries. The essay argues that northern paradigms, focused on science as the only true form of knowledge, need to be replaced with functional Indigenous knowledge systems. However, the authors adopt the framework of the global north when reimagining and advocating for a radical ‘power literate’ agenda thus confounding knowledge with science, and education with science communication. These approaches obscure the fundamental importance of reimagining power dynamics in a world of multiple epistemologies. Instead, we propose that ‘knowledge communicators’ facilitate a multi-knowledge world through participatory processes.

Volume 22 • Issue 04 • 2023

Jun 20, 2023 Essay
Designing (the) politics of participation in science

by Adalberto Fernandes

Living Labs foster participatory prototyping and technology testing in “real-life” situations. The literature exhibits a weak approach to Living Labs’ power relations. It is crucial to understand the visual apparatus employed by Living Labs because they model power relations inherent to participation, especially when commercial interests are involved. Some Living Labs’ visual models display indifference towards power imbalances and unquestioned faith in progress, diminishing the space for divergent positions. Living Labs are just the newest manifestation of the fundamental challenges of making ethical participation and technological innovation compatible, given that increased participation may not translate necessarily into novelty.

Volume 22 • Issue 03 • 2023 • Special Issue: Living labs under construction: paradigms, practices, and perspectives of public science communication and participatory science

Jun 20, 2023 Essay
Imagineering the city: the living lab mystique and its discontents

by Dara Ivanova and Sabrina Huizenga

In this essay, we posit that the urban living lab is an object, engulfed in a particular kind of ontological mystique. We show how diverse urban initiatives utilize the label of `lab' strategically, in order to position their practices within the logic of scientific authority and in/exclude different audiences, thus configuring urban participation. The essay links this lab mystique to urban participation by employing the lens of imagineering [van den Berg, 2015], combining imagining and engineering the city in particular participatory configurations. This allows for critical examinations of who is allowed to imagine, experiment and participate in the city through living lab initiatives.

Volume 22 • Issue 03 • 2023 • Special Issue: Living labs under construction: paradigms, practices, and perspectives of public science communication and participatory science

May 02, 2023 Essay
The Notorious GPT: science communication in the age of artificial intelligence

by Mike S. Schäfer

ChatGPT provides original, human-like responses to user prompts based on supervised and reinforcement machine learning techniques. It has become the poster child of generative AI, which is widely diagnosed to disrupt many realms of life — including science communication. This essay reflects on this development. It discusses opportunities for the practice of science communication, such as generative AI’s translational and multimodal capacities and its capacity to provide dialogical science communication at scale, but also challenges in terms of accuracy, ‘wrongness at scale’ or job market implications. It also ponders implications for research on science communication, which has largely neglected (generative) AI so far. It argues that scholars should analyze public communication “about” AI as well as communication “with” AI, given its ‘increased agency’. Furthermore, scholars should analyze the impact of AI on science communication itself and the larger science communication ecosystem.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

Mar 27, 2023 Essay
Factors affecting the efficacy of short stories as science communication tools

by Masoud Irani and Emma Weitkamp

People become familiar with stories as sources of information in their childhood, and, while they have recently received interest as potential science communication tools, few studies have considered aspects of story quality on science communication. We postulate that quality is an important, if challenging, facet that should be considered when exploring the potential of short stories in science communication. This essay argues that quality should be a key consideration of those interested in studying or working with short stories for science communication purposes and presents criteria for the `well-made' short story.

Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023

Nov 28, 2022 Essay
Communicating science through competing logics and a science-art lens

by Anna Jonsson, Axel Brechensbauer and Maria Grafström

This essay takes a starting point in the well-known tension between the media logic and the scientific logic and the challenges when communicating science in a mediatized society. Building on the experience of engaging in research comics, both as a method for communicating science and a creative example of a meeting between science and art, we introduce a framework — a pedagogical tool — for how science communication can be understood through the two competing logics. We contribute to literature about the balancing act of being a ‘legitimate expert’ and a ‘visible scientist’, and suggest that the meeting between science and art can be understood as a lens for how to communicate science that goes beyond the deficit model.

Volume 21 • Issue 07 • 2022

Sep 05, 2022 Essay
Opportunities for poaching: using the public's enjoyment of popular culture to foster dialogues around genetics

by Jonathan Roberts, Richard Milne, Anna Middleton, Christine Patch and Katherine Morley

Introduction: Engagement, education and communication with public audiences have long been seen as important for maximising the benefits of genetics and genomics. An important challenge is how to structure engagement in such a way that recognises the value and legitimacy of diverse public opinions and voices alongside scientific expertise. In other words, how to operationalise the dialogue model of science communication. In order for diverse public voices to be heard it is important to understand the resources that people have to make sense of science on their own terms. In this paper we provide a framework for how people's resources can be identified in relation to the culture they consume. Methods: A cross sectional online survey (n=1407) explored the cultural tastes and practices of a representative British public audience. Latent class analysis identified groups with similar cultural practices. Regression analysis was used to explore the relationship between the latent classes and other measures, such beliefs about genetics. Results: Three latent classes were identified each with distinctive cultural practices and tastes. Some clear relationships were found between the latent classes and familiarity with genetic terminology. However, for more complex beliefs, such as genetic causation, regression analysis yielded null or uncertain results with no clear correlation found. Discussion: This paper provides an analysis of how people's enjoyment of culture could be a resource for understanding and advancing science communication and engagement. The results are discussed using two complementary theoretical frameworks. Using Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital, the exclusionary power culture can be seen. The work of De Certaeu, on the other hand, shows how this power can be resisted and subverted. While this paper focuses on genetics and genomics we argue that this approach provides a `proof of concept' that these ideas can be extended for use in wider science engagement contexts.

Volume 21 • Issue 06 • 2022

Jul 25, 2022 Essay
CLADISTICS ruined my life: intersections of fandom, internet memes, and public engagement with science

by Luke-Elizabeth Gartley

In an increasingly mediated culture, social institutions such as science, public health, and civic engagement exist within the same modes of discourse as popular media. As a human endeavor, science is also a cultural phenomenon, and there are webs of multidirectional and layered communication that occur between formal science communication, pop science, and, indeed, popular media. For public participants, engagement with science and entertainment may be one in the same. This essay draws from research of transformative works, fan studies, and memetics to examine how the public engages with science and popular media within digital cultures.

Volume 21 • Issue 05 • 2022