The summer now gone has reported two episodes we would like to bring to the attention of the JCOM readers. Two minor pieces of news, unlikely to be in the limelight over the summer, when the media understandably focus on gossips and crime news. Even the experts – especially outside the Italian territory – would probably dismiss these events as minor, wouldn’t it be for the people involved. But let’s see the facts.
We have analyzed the popularization activities undertaken by ten thousand CNRS researchers by means of their annual reports for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006. This is the first time that such an extensive statistical study on science popularization practices is carried out. Our main findings are : - the majority of researchers is not involved in popularization (51% has not done any popularization over the three-year period, two thirds have been involved in no more than one popularization action). - popularization practices are extremely diverse, both at the individual level (we have identified three subpopulations that feature distinctive attitudes towards popularization), and at the level of scientific disciplines (researchers in Humanities are twice as active as the average), as well as in laboratories or geographical regions. - the number of actions reported in 2005 greatly increased compared to 2004 (+ 26%), while they slightly diminished in 2006.
This paper relates to a special case of science-society mediation set up during the Science et Cité festival 2005. This national event took place in about twenty cities in Switzerland to promote a closer cooperation between science and society via art (theatre, music, dance, exhibitions, cinema, etc.), in order to reach the population at large. Results on the profile of the public, the role played by the cultural institutions involved, the motives of the visitors and the role of art in the science-society dialogue show that the goals aimed at by the festival's organisers were only partially reached. Moreover, the analyses shed light on the complex relation between art, science and society in public understanding of science activities.
This article introduces a study on the websites of several European public research institutions that aims at identifying the science communication model chosen and implemented online with the purpose of reaching different target publics. The analytical approach takes into account a number of indicators: from the institutional identity to the scientific features, from the interactive services to the internationalisation level, in order to evaluate whether the web provides an added value in the adopted communication model and in building a relation with the users. Lights and shades emerge from this study in which good practices side examples of a much weaker science communication approach, outlining a general context where a public research institution website has been still used as a presentation tool and its interactive opportunities have not been capitalised.
Two concepts seemingly distant from each other, scientific education and European citizenship, have been the basis for "SEDEC - Science Education for the Development of European Citizenship", a European project funded by the European Commission in the framework of the Socrates/Comenius programme, aiming at producing training material addressed to European teachers. Started in autumn 2005, the project will end in 2008 with an in-service training course for European teachers and educators.
Probably among the first to deal with it, nearly sixty years ago, Norbert Wiener, the founding father of cybernetics (The human use of human beings. Cybernetics and Society, Houghton Mifflin Company, London, 1950), prefigured its opportunities, as well as its limitations. Today, it is a quite common belief. We have entered (are entering) a new, great era in the history of human society: the age of information and knowledge.