This issue of JCOM presents some interesting challenges relating to trust and the media ecology that supports science communication. Weingart and Guenther have organised a set of commentaries considering the issue of trust and media from different points of view, by asking for responses to their paper 'Science Communication and the Issue of Trust'. The commentaries focus on traditional and social media and the actors that contribute to media content, though they do not consider 'paid for' content (also known as advertising), which is the subject of a paper by Silva and Simonian also published in this issue of JCOM.
In this article it is investigated the relationship between advertising and sustainability by evaluating the perceptions of employees of advertising agencies in the Pan-Amazon region using pre-defined indicators. Seeking to identify the level of environmental practices adopted by advertising agencies toward the goal of building a sustainable society, it was interviewed advertising professionals about whether they saw themselves as contributing to changing consumer society towards a new society based on economic efficiency, social equality and ecological equilibrium. To answer these questions it was used quantitative survey data complemented by qualitative research using in-depth interviews. Results suggest that, from the point of view of advertising professionals, advertising agencies do not have much interest in contributing to a more sustainable society. Moreover, our research showed how the lack of strong ties within advertising trade associations further contribute to the weakness of efforts aimed at this area.
Of all the online information tools that the public relies on to collect information and share opinions about scientific and environmental issues, Twitter presents a unique venue to assess the spontaneous and genuine opinions of networked publics, including those about a focusing event like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Using computational linguistic algorithms, this study analyzes a census of English-language tweets about nuclear power before, during, and after the Fukushima nuclear accident. Results show that although discourse about the event may have faded rapidly from the news cycle on traditional media, it evoked concerns about reactor safety and the environmental implications of nuclear power, particularly among users in U.S. states that are geographically closer to the accident site. Also, while the sentiment of the tweets was primarily pessimistic about nuclear power weeks after the accident, overall sentiment became increasingly neutral and uncertain over time. This study reveals there is a group of concerned citizens and stakeholders who are using online tools like Twitter to communicate about global and local environmental and health risks related to nuclear power. The implications for risk communication and public engagement strategies are discussed.
This paper contains an overview of the programmes currently existing in Latin America to train science communicators. For such purpose, only postgraduate courses held regularly were considered in the study. Twenty-two programmes meeting such requirement were identified in five countries, 65% of which were in fact established over the past ten years. They present a lot of diversity in terms of admittance requirements, goals, contents, approaches, duration and graduation requirements. However, all of them share the same effort, aiming to offer specific contents in the area of science communication.
This study applies social network analysis to explore the role that one science festival has played in building the state's STEM learning ecosystem. It examines the breadth and extent of collaboration among STEM educators and their partners, reviewing past and present partnerships across 449 events during the 2015 festival. Three case studies provide in-depth illustrations of partnerships. These findings represent an important step towards (a) mapping a STEM learning ecosystem, and (b) trying to understand how a festival affects the ecosystem itself. Together, study results demonstrate how the festival has served to stimulate and foster STEM partnerships.
Factors that influence reception and use of information are represented in this koru model of science communication using the metaphor of a growing plant. Identity is central to this model, determining whether an individual attends to information, how it is used and whether access to it results in increased awareness, knowledge or understanding, changed attitudes or behaviour. In this koru model, facts are represented as nutrients in the soil; the matrix influences their availability. Communication involves reorganisation of facts into information, available via channels represented as roots. When information is taken up, engagement with it is influenced by external factors (social norms, support and control) and internal factors (values, beliefs, attitudes, awareness, affect, understanding, skills and behaviour) which affect whether the individual uses it to form new knowledge.
In considering the ethos of science, Robert Merton  posited that openness and secrecy reflect opposing values in the accomplishment of science. According to Merton, scientific inquiry required that all interested parties have access to and freely share scientific information. In our current epoch, this importance of openness in science seems even more widely accepted. It is a given nowadays that scientists are expected to work as part of a team, not only within their own department, but also with other departments different disciplines. To work interdisciplinary scientists must become more communicative and critically talk about difference, which asks maximum transparency and open communication of the participants. However, against the adage that openness and participation in science is an inherent good, one easily forgets that the actual practice of collaborating may also require things are not said. Navigating everyday interactional challenges may depend on postponing issues to keep the process going, for instance because scientists still have to figure out what they find important in the collaboration with others. But also issues like, withholding sensitive problems or not critiquing each other's options viewpoints, leaving points shrewdly of the agenda, and excluding relevant actors from the meeting table. Despite the idea of open innovation, shared visions, beliefs and knowledge we must focus on silence for the good and the bad as well.
BOOK: Olson, R. (2015). Houston, we have a narrative: Why science needs story. Chicago, U.S.A.: University of Chicago Press
Scientist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson makes a bold claim: scientists cannot adequately explain their own work. He attributes all of the issues facing science communication today ― false positives, an uninterested public, and unapproved grant proposals ― to scientists' lack of narrative intuition. Rather than turn to the humanities for help, Olson suggests scientists learn from the true masters of storytelling ― Hollywood filmmakers. His latest book examines the age-old divide between science and the humanities, as well as the new adversarial relationship between science and film, which he says can save science.