NASA has decided to cut by 50% the next two-year budget for the Astrobiology Institute (NAI), and for all of the studies on life in outer space. This reduction follows an announcement made by Dr Michael Griffin, the Administrator of the space agency of the United States Government when, in addressing the Mars Society last summer, he clearly stated that xenobiology studies are marginal to the mission of NASA.
This paper summarizes key findings from a web-based questionnaire survey among Danish scientists in the natural sciences and engineering science. In line with the Act on Universities of 2003 enforcing science communication as a university obligation next to research and teaching, the respondents take a keen interest in communicating science, especially through the news media. However, they also do have mixed feeling about the quality of science communication in the news. Moreover, a majority of the respondents would like to give higher priority to science communication. More than half reply that they are willing to allocate up to 2% of total research funding in Denmark to science communication. Further, the respondents indicate that they would welcome a wider variety of science communication initiatives aimed at many types of target groups. They do not see the news media as the one and only channel for current science communication.
We inhabit an age in which economic progress in the European Union is equalized to more European research and better communication of that European research to the public. In highly developed Western democracies this implies an important role for the public as well as the mass media, both actors in a transforming public sphere. Beyond a call for more communication and more scientific literacy, the discourse has shifted to a call for more engagement and more participation on behalf of the citizen. There is a widespread sentiment however that the discipline of science communication is at a crossroads. In this paper it is argued that in a context of life politics and an increasing displacement of politics, one has to account for the trajectories of issue formation and the detours of public-ization to understand the dynamics of techno-scientific issues.
In their contributions to this special issue, the British science writer Jon Turney and the American scholar Bruce Lewenstein discuss the validity of the book as a means for science communication in the era of the Internet, whereas the article by Vittorio Bo deals with scientific publishing in a broader sense.
What professional future awaits those who have attended a school in science communication? This has become an ever more urgent question, when you consider the proliferation of Masters and post-graduate courses that provide on different levels a training for science communicators in Europe and all over the world. In Italy, the International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste has been for fourteen years now the seat for a Master’s degree in Science Communication that has graduated over 170 students. This letter illustrates the results of a survey carried out in order to identify the job opportunities they have been offered and the role played in their career by their Master’s degree. Over 70% of the interviewees are now working in the field of science communication and they told us that the Master has played an important role in finding a job, thus highlighting the importance of this school as a training, cultural and professional centre.
We live in a period where new media develops at amazing speed: the case of Youtube, becoming in few months one of the most visited website in the world, or the incredibly fast diffusion of audio and video podcasting, or the acquired relevance and authoritativeness of blogs in the dissemination of scientific information, are paradigmatic. Yet, there is little doubt that old media such as traditional television remain a reference for the largest sector of the population. Indeed, all surveys show that when dealing with scientific information, television remains the most relevant medium by a large majority of European (although in eastern Europe, due to a more trustful reputation, radio has also a particularly relevant position, and the internet is gaining favour among younger audiences).