The recent events related to the spread of the influenza virus A (H1N1) have drawn again the attention of science communication experts to old issues, including a couple of issues we deem particularly important: risk communication and the role of scientific journalists in the society of knowledge.
Assessment of trends in the state of the environment constitutes one important aspect of efforts to achieve environmental sustainability. Assessments are often undertaken via indicators which measure progress towards environmental objectives and interim targets. This paper starts from the assumption that different types of environmental indicators have different implications for the public communication and the societal dialogue about the state of the environment and the measures needed to increase ecological sustainability. The paper concludes that it is important to evaluate environmental indicators on the basis of their communicative potential. It is demonstrated how science-based assessment of progress towards environmental objectives may fulfil different aims. Each of these aims may be linked to particular types of indicators, as well as to particular ideas of how to communicate uncertainties, and to particular views of the role of the public in the system of environmental objectives.
Brazilian research has grown intensely in all areas of microbiology, with the increase in the amount of governmental resources for the sector and the strengthening of a greater number of research groups. However, very few academic studies deal with research about teaching and science communication in microbiology. There is no in-depth study of how this topic is currently being divulgated in communication journals, didactic books and the Internet, or about the interest and the difficulties faced by researchers in communicating microbiology to the general public. This paper investigates academic production on science communication and the teaching of microbiology in Brazil and contextualizes the need for studies about the ways and means through which this activity is being carried out.
Effective training in key communications skills is critical for successful public engagement. However, what are the secrets to designing and delivering an effectual training course? This paper outlines key findings from a research study into communication training programmes for public engagement with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The research focused on training in direct communication methods, (as separate from media training) and encompassed both trainers and trainees, the latter group spanning across both scientists and explainers. The findings indicated that training courses are effective at increasing involvement in science communication events and trainees feel more confident and able to engage due to training. An interactive style was found to be a key element of training courses. Demonstrations of good practice followed by own performance with feedback were also important, preferably involving a ‘real’ audience. A list of guidelines on best practice has been developed which offers practical advice.
Standards and Good Practice guidelines provide explicit criteria for maintaining quality and integrity in science. But research practices are now openly questioned. I defend the idea that the tension between norms and practices in scientific writing must be addressed primarily by the scientific community if quality of the sources in the process of science communication is to be guaranteed. This paper provides evidence that scientific writing and researchers’writing practices do not reflect expected quality criteria. Evidence is based on four complementary analyses of: (i) communication manuals, journals’ recommendations to authors and the norms they convey (ii) feedback given by reviewers (ii) interviews and questionnaires (iv) researchers’ written productions and writing practices. I show that researchers’ writing and communication practices are very often in total contradiction with the norms and standards the scientific community has established. Unless researchers can improve and guarantee quality and integrity of the sources, the whole system of science communication will be threatened.
In present times it would not be appropriate to say art made a “debut” in science centres, as it has been a feature since the beginning of their history, and it appeared precisely in the ‘parent’ science centre, the Exploratorium. However, now it is time to check the progress. There is unrest for this issue, as in history-making times, and it is worthwhile to follow the new developments and hear the words of the coordinators of the artistic activities in science centres and, more in general, in science museums, and also of the artists involved in the process. The goal is to promote a debate on the final results of this phenomenon and on what will happen next. Also, emphasis should be put on the importance for each museum to define right from the start an ‘art policy’, even a complex one, but somehow structured, that may be employed at many levels according to the needs of the museum itself.
The climate change issue has become increasingly present in our society in the last decade and central also to communication studies. In the e-book “Communicating Climate Change: Discourses, Mediations and Perceptions”, edited by Anabela Carvalho, various scholars investigate how climate change challenges communication by looking at three main aspects: the discourses of a variety of social actors on climate change; the reconstruction of those discourses in the media; the citizens’ perceptions, understandings and attitudes in relation to climate change.