In the name of God is the heading chosen by some researchers from a Middle Eastern country for their posters in an international conference on chemistry which has recently been held in Paris. This powerful message preceded the results of the researchers' work on the morphology, molecular structure, as well as the physical, chemical and mechanical properties of advanced polymeric materials. It was an unexpected statement, an unusual message, though certainly not an unprecedented one. It had nonetheless a striking effect in the context of a scientific conference attended by thousands of people from various ethnic and religious backgrounds.
A feature of the management of natural resources in the coastal zone is that it involves multiple stakeholders. It has been suggested that the effectiveness of coastal management relies on the cooperation of this multitude of stakeholders in decision-making. This study reports on the findings of an investigation into the modes of interaction used by coastal researchers to communicate with stakeholders. A qualitative research methodology was used through both telephone and in-depth face-toface interviews to elucidate the mechanisms of interaction and, in turn, produce a typology of interaction modes. It was found that there were five main modes of interaction: Limited; Mediator Achieved; Key Stakeholder; Full Interaction and Mixed and that the discipline area in which the researcher worked did not dictate their preferred mode of interaction. It was concluded that although there are a number of limitations to effective participation, these interactions have significant implications for meaningful participation in the management of coastal resources.
In The Areopagitica, his most important work of prose, John Milton mentions Galileo as the illustrious martyr who fought for the freedom of thought. The name of the great scientist is repeated several times in the English poet's epic masterpiece: Paradise Lost. In three different passages of the poem, Milton in fact celebrates the "Tuscan Artist" and his crucial achievements in astronomy. Nevertheless, in a subsequent passage, the poet addresses the Copernican issue without openly defending the heliocentric theory confirmed by Galileo's discoveries. In fact, he neither embraces the Copernican system nor the Ptolemaic one, but instead compares them, following a dialectic method where one cannot fail to notice an echo of Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the two Chief World Systems. Milton's literary work presents images of astronomy at that time, thus offering a valuable historical example of scientific communication through art.
The eighth convention of the PCST (Public Communication of Science and Technology) network, which took place in Barcelona this June, emphasised an increasing richness in reflection and practice with regard to several themes to do with science communication. This growing variety mirrors the different approaches gradually coming about in different cultural and geographical contexts. In particular, the Focus of this issue of JCOM concentrates on a presentation of the models of interpretation of science communication referring to the Mediterranean and South American cultural area.
In a beautiful Barcelona, bathed in sun, the 8th PCST Congress was celebrated at the beginning of June.1 Besides the magnificent location of this year, there are several other reasons to commemorate the event. The first reason is that the community of professionals and scholars interested in Public Communication of Science and Technology (science journalists and writers, scientists, sociologists, teachers, historians, science museum curators, etc.) is growing quickly.
Never have there been so much science and so much technology on so many sides as now. The expansion of scientific information in the social sphere is frankly impressive. In newspapers and movies, on television and radio, scientific ideas circulate freely every day of the week. Science is in cell phones, shampoo, compact discs, Olympic athletes' clothing, food, perfumes, and in so many places that trying to enumerate them would be insane. After all, why should it be particularly strange to speak of science and technology if scientific thought finally molds our deepest fibers? Today's society, developed or not, lives immersed in a scientific and technological culture which guides the course of the most fundamental events. Even though, of course, the common sense obliges us to admit that the majority of us are not fully conscious of its reach and consequences. Perhaps this helps to understand why we still feel a certain shame when, in a social gathering, we comment that our profession consists of spreading science or analyzing the ways in which it circulates and its repercussions in the public opinion. It may be that we live with the fear that someone will look at us strangely and with disbelief and ask us to explain what scientific communication or the social studies of science consist of or, worse yet, that we find ourselves in the embarrassing situation of rehearsing an answer to justify the importance of thinking about science in daily life.
Can (and should) there be a "Mediterranean model" of science communication? For those of us who work in the field of science communication in a country which is on the Mediterranean Sea, this has always been a question that spontaneously leaps to mind. This is because we "feel" there is something intangible in our way of communicating science that is rather similar to the way of a French, Spanish (or even Brazilian) colleague of ours, whereas it is slightly different from that of an American or British one. And yet, the more in depth this question is studied in time, the more complex the answer becomes.
Natural parks are a place where science communicates with the public, involving dimensions ranging from the knowledge of living species to the relationship between man and nature, the environmental policy decisions and the anthropic impact assessments. Natural parks are therefore an important arena for scientific communication where the "shared participation" tools play a fundamental role. To this end, we report a few international experiences that illustrate the role of the interest holders and the importance of coordination of the parties involved in the management of parks.