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May 20, 2024 Practice Insight
Hands-on climate engagement: principles for effective hands-on activities and demonstrations

by Angus Croak and Graham J. Walker

Communicating climate change to foster engagement and action is a challenge for science communication requiring novel, creative and diverse methods. In this practice reflection, we explore the potential of climate change related hands-on activities and demonstrations. Following a rapidly implemented COVID-19 project creating climate activities and workshops in the Pacific, we reflect on the underlying qualities of such activities to generate principles to guide design and facilitation of hands-on climate engagement. Through a fusing of theory, literature and practice, five principles are generated: personal and collective relevance, balancing risks/impacts with solutions, deliberative discussion and collaborative/participatory critical thinking, intrinsic motivation and positive emotional engagement, and opportunities for agency and action — with inclusive approaches providing foundation. We then describe applying the principles to refine content and create new activities.

Volume 23 • Issue 03 • 2024

May 13, 2024 Practice Insight
Prioritising community over content: value shifts in science centres

by Jennifer DeWitt and Shaaron Leverment

Science centres are increasingly adopting co-development as a tool to engage diverse audiences with science. The case study featured in this practice insight draws on an evaluation of a programme that aimed to move U.K. science centres towards more inclusive practice. Interviews with staff from eight U.K. science centres and their community partner organisations reflected shifts in science centre practitioners' understanding and valuing of co-development approaches, and, especially, the centrality placed on relationships with communities. This case study can contribute to our understanding and help us reflect on how to align our practice with a commitment to equity.

Volume 23 • Issue 03 • 2024

Apr 02, 2024 Practice Insight
Using science communication research to practice iterative engagement in collaborative nutrient management

by Katherine Canfield and Casey Chatelain

Thoughtful science communication is essential for the success of collaborative, transdisciplinary environmental research. We present an innovative evaluation of a four-year pilot project that took a highly engaged and collaborative approach to managing excess nutrients in the Cape Cod region of Massachusetts, USA. The evaluation approach included mid- and end-of-project interviews with researchers and project partners and a reflection from the lead science communication researcher. We found that an effective science communication evaluation needs to be (1) adaptive, (2) multistage, (3) holistic and objective-based, and (4) democratic and reflexive. Results demonstrate that formative and end-of-project science communication evaluation of research projects lead to improved engagement that better meets all collaborators' needs.

Volume 23 • Issue 03 • 2024

Mar 25, 2024 Practice Insight
Teaching to bridge research and practice: perspectives from science communication educators across the world

by Siddharth Kankaria, Alice Fleerackers, Edith Escalón, Erik Stengler, Clare Wilkinson and Tobias Kreutzer

Despite growing awareness of the need to bridge research and practice in science communication, methods of facilitating meaningful interactions between them remain elusive. This practice insight explores how teaching efforts can help to fill this gap. Drawing on case studies from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, India, and Mexico, six instructors offer examples of pedagogical strategies that they have found effective in bridging the two domains — such as fostering partnerships with local science communication practitioners, using dialogic and participatory approaches to build communities of learning and practice, encouraging reflexivity and epistemic humility, and drawing connections with local contexts.

Volume 23 • Issue 02 • 2024 • Special Issue: Connecting science communication research and practice: challenges and ways forward

Mar 25, 2024 Practice Insight
Transforming science journalism through collaborative research: a case study of the German “WPK Innovation Fund for Science Journalism”

by Christopher Buschow, Anja Noster, Holger Hettwer, Lynda Lich-Knight and Franco Zotta

Science journalism, a unique form of science communication, faces grand challenges requiring innovation for its sustainability. This practice insight delves into a research-practice collaboration addressing the “WPK Innovation Fund for Science Journalism”, a pioneering support infrastructure for innovation in German science journalism. Our transformative accompanying research project aims to both support the fund's development as well as advance science journalism research. This report, co-authored by researchers and practitioners, showcases opportunities and challenges, drawing from the three forms of knowledge generated in the collaboration: systems, target, and transformation knowledge. Each of these forms sheds light on specific lessons learned in our project on how to conduct transformative journalism research.

Volume 23 • Issue 02 • 2024 • Special Issue: Connecting science communication research and practice: challenges and ways forward

Mar 25, 2024 Practice Insight
Exhibition research and practice at CERN: challenges and learnings of science communication `in the making'

by Daria Dvorzhitskaia, Annabella Zamora, Emma Sanders, Patricia Verheyden and Jimmy Clerc

This practice insight paper presents a reflection on a four-year collaboration between science communication practitioners and researchers, using CERN's new education and outreach centre as a case study. The development of interactive exhibitions for this centre was informed by a variety of front-end and formative evaluation studies, from online surveys to exhibit prototype testing. As a multidisciplinary team of exhibition developers and social science researchers, we describe and discuss the challenges of — as well as learnings from — working together. Our experience will be relevant for everyone curious to discover `behind-the-scenes' work of research-informed exhibition development in a large scientific laboratory.

Volume 23 • Issue 02 • 2024 • Special Issue: Connecting science communication research and practice: challenges and ways forward

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

Jan 22, 2024 Practice Insight
Engaging young people in science communication about mental health during COVID-19

by Signe Herbers Poulsen, Nina Maindal, Kristian Dahlmann Oddershede, Mathias Sejerkilde, Stine Breiner Pedersen, Manizha Haghju, Emma MacLean Sinclair, Anne Harrits, Ulrik Bak Kirk, Jacob F. Sherson and Gitte Kragh

Many young people struggle with their mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic compounded these challenges. However, young people are rarely involved in research and communication about causes and coping strategies. We used an online game as a conversation starter and co-created a list of coping strategies with young people to apply the dialogue model of science communication and facilitate social conversation about mental health during COVID-19. The young people found the involvement was valuable as it led to self-reflection, social reflection with peers and an experience of recognition and contribution. We discuss challenges and urge researchers to explore ways for open dialogue and co-creation as strategic and contributing parts of the research process.

Volume 23 • Issue 01 • 2024

Nov 22, 2023 Practice Insight
The value of public science events: insights from three years of communicating climate change research

by Ruth A. O'Connor, Tara Roberson, Clare de Castella and Zoe Leviston

Public science events are valued primarily as sites of individual learning. We explored the individual and collective value of university-based science events discussing climate change and motivations to attend. While events were most commonly valued as opportunities for learning, their social context created collective value associated with the physical gathering of like-minded people. Participants despairing at inaction on climate change were given agency through learning, participation, interpersonal discussions and normalising new behaviours. Post-event interpersonal discussions increase the reach of events beyond “the choir”. These discussions increase the diversity of messengers, creating opportunities for new framings and understandings of climate change.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023

Nov 06, 2023 Practice Insight
What would aliens think of science on earth? Philosophical dialogues in the museum to help children reflect about science

by Jelle De Schrijver

Thinking about what makes science science can help people develop both an understanding of and a critical attitude towards knowledge. In this case study we explore how children participating in informal science communication activities can think about science by engaging in philosophical dialogues. The dialogue facilitator's inquisitive stance helps children develop arguments about knowledge, scientists, and science. The use of philosophical questions and a cover story involving alien scientists enthuses most children, but some find it frustrating. However, frustration acts as a motivator enhancing further reflection. Introducing this approach at science museums or science festivals challenges science communicators to question rather than to answer.

Volume 22 • Issue 05 • 2023