Volume 17 • Issue 04 • 2018


Sep 30, 2018 Article
Revisiting public debate on Genetic Modification and Genetically Modified Organisms. Explanations for contemporary Dutch public attitudes

by Lucien Hanssen, Anne Dijkstra, Susanne Sleenhoff, Lynn Frewer and Jan M. Gutteling

Genetic Modification (GM) has been a topic of public debates during the 1990s and 2000s. In this paper we explore the relative importance of two hypothesized explanations for these controversies: (i) people's general attitude toward science and technology and (ii) their trust in governance, in GM actors, and in GM regulations, in explaining the Dutch public's Attitude toward GM applications, and in addition to that, the public's GM Information seeking behaviour. This will be conducted through the application of representative survey methodology. The results indicate that Attitudes toward GM applications are best predicted by both the attitude toward science and technology and three trust measures. GM information seeking is predicted by gender and educational level, as well as attitude toward science and technology, trust in organisations and trust in regulations (negative). Overall, psychological variables seem better predictors than demographics. Implications for future research on information seeking behaviour are discussed.

Volume 17 • Issue 04 • 2018

Oct 15, 2018 Article
To debate or not debate? Examining the effects of scientists engaging in debates addressing contentious issues

by David Morin

According to the Gateway Belief Model, scientists and science educators should stress the scientific consensus when engaging with the lay population across a wide variety of mediums, including debates. The purpose of this study, then, was to determine if engaging in such debates does more harm than good in terms of persuading individuals towards accepting the scientific consensus of controversial issues. Participants (N = 208) read a manipulated debate segment altered by the issue discussed as well as the position/title of the skeptic debater. Results indicate that it is possible to influence individuals exposed to these debate segments, but the effects are issue-contingent. Limitations and future research related to science education are discussed.

Volume 17 • Issue 04 • 2018

Dec 13, 2018 Article
Visitor profiling at the Museum of Human Evolution of Burgos (Spain)

by María Eugenia Conforti, Maria Gabriela Chaparro, Pamela Degele and Juan Carlos Díez Fernández Lomana

This paper presents the first study ever conducted on the profile of visitors to the Museum of Human Evolution of Burgos (Spain), which exhibits the finds of the Atapuerca archaeo-paleontological sites. The research was guided by the principles of public communication of science and the methodology of the studies on museum visitors. The analysis reveals a positive perception; the Museum is associated with the sites and they are valued as cultural heritage. Complaints are very limited but useful to produce a set of recommendations to further improve the exhibition. In addition, the findings are placed in the context of similar research carried out at other museums in Spain.

Volume 17 • Issue 04 • 2018

Practice Insights

Oct 02, 2018 Practice Insight
Engaging with policy practitioners to promote institutionalisation of public participation in science, technology and innovation policy

by Mitsuru Kudo, Go Yoshizawa and Kei Kano

This paper is a reflective account of a public participation project the authors conducted in Japan in 2012–2015, as part of the central government's initiative for evidence-based policy-making. The reflection focusses on three key aspects of the project: setting a precedent of involving public participation in policy-making; embedding an official mechanism for public participation in policy-making process; and raising policy practitioners' awareness of public participation. We also discuss why we think engaging with policy practitioners, while problematic in various ways, is and will continue to be important in promoting institutionalised practice of public participation.

Volume 17 • Issue 04 • 2018

Oct 07, 2018 Practice Insight
Time to teach post-normal science communication? Fostering the engagement of the extended peer community in an academic course of Environmental Sciences

by Alba L'Astorina, Alessia Ghezzi, Stefano Guerzoni and Emanuela Molinaroli

In November 2016, within an Environmental studies course at the University of Venice, students carried out an experiment aimed at collecting scenarios of the Venetian coast's future starting from lessons learnt during the episode of storm surge 50 years ago (Aqua Granda ‘flood’). The students built scenarios able to anticipate the effect of sea level rise on coastal areas in Venice, based not only on scientific input but also on a methodology called “Futurescape city Tours” (FCT) involving inhabitants of the barrier islands of Lido and Pellestrina. This paper will explore three main questions: (i) Can participatory and experiential methodologies, such as FCT help students behave in an anticipatory and inclusive way in their future professional activities? (ii) Can we talk about post-normal science teaching? — i.e. one that acknowledges and works with science and other knowledges to address societal issues? (iii) Can such an approach challenge students thinking in relation to knowledge hierarchies?

Volume 17 • Issue 04 • 2018

Nov 11, 2018 Practice Insight
A coding lab to increase science capital of school dropout teenagers

by Simona Cerrato, Francesca Rizzato, Lucia Tealdi and Elena Canel

We explored the potential of science to facilitate social inclusion with teenagers who had interrupted their studies before the terms set for compulsory education. The project was carried out from 2014 to 2018 within SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies), a scientific and higher education institution in physics, mathematics and neurosciences, and was focused on the production of video games using Scratch. The outcomes are encouraging: through active engagement, the participants have succeeded in completing complex projects, taking responsibilities and interacting with people outside their usual entourage, within a background in which they have been valued and respected.

Volume 17 • Issue 04 • 2018


Book Reviews

Oct 21, 2018 Book Review
Pedagogical challenges: insights from environmental communication

by Emma Weitkamp

Environmental Pedagogies and Practice is divided into four sections: changing environmental pedagogies, teaching practices, examples of transformative approaches and a toolkit of lesson plans. While the book focuses on environmental communication, the chapters offer insights that are also relevant in a range of science communication contexts.

Volume 17 • Issue 04 • 2018

Nov 05, 2018 Book Review
Ethics and practice in science communication

by Clare Wilkinson

It can be argued that ethical considerations in science communication are a significantly overlooked area although these considerations are implicit in many ongoing academic debates within the field, and within the practical implications of work which is being both constructed and shared within the discipline. Priest, Goodwin and Dahlstrom's [2018] edited collection, ‘Ethics and Practice in Science Communication’, is therefore a significant step forwards in allowing for contemporary reflection on the ethical considerations currently influencing the field. In shining a light on some of the ethical questions currently concerning the field of science communication, this enjoyable and detailed selection of chapters draws together a number of key examples and authors, to begin to consider such ethical quandaries, as well as identifying spaces, which are primed for further ethical exploration in the future.

Volume 17 • Issue 04 • 2018

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