Participation and science governance

19/09/2008

Science magazines have an important role in disseminating scientific knowledge into the public sphere and in discussing the broader scope affected by scientific research such as technology, ethics and politics. Student-run science magazines afford opportunities for future scientists, communicators, politicians and others to practice communicating science. The ability to translate ‘scientese’ into a jargon-free discussion is rarely easy: it requires practice, and student magazines may provide good practice ground for undergraduate and graduate science students wishing to improve their communication skills.

21/12/2007

In 2007, global investments in R&D have increased by 7% on the previous year and have reached an absolute historical peak, exceeding for the first time the threshold of 1,100 billion dollars (calculated in the hypothesis of a purchasing power parity between the currencies). The world invests in scientific research and technological development 2.1% of the wealth it produces. At the same time, there has been an increase in the exchange of high added-knowledge value goods and high tech represents now the most dynamic sector of the world economy.

20/09/2007

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.

20/09/2007

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.

20/09/2007

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.

20/09/2007

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.

21/03/2007

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.

21/12/2006

What pushed His Excellency Enrico Fermi, acclaimed Academician of Italy entitled to a state car and driver, to leave Italy all of a sudden in December 1938 in order to reach New York, after a short stop in Stockholm for the ceremony that celebrated him as a Nobel laureate for physics, and to accept a job as a simple physics lecturer at the Columbia University?

21/09/2006

The Royal Society published in late June a report entitled «Science Communication. Survey of factors affecting science communication by scientists and engineers». It is an in-depth survey on the communication addressed to non-specialist audiences that was carried out interviewing a wide and representative sample of UK scientists and engineers.

21/03/2006

The people of Val di Susa (Italy) blocked the construction of the new high-speed railway line that should connect Turin with Lyons (France). This project is regarded as a strategic achievement for the economic development of the European Union, but local communities have a different concept of development and are asserting their rights through ad hoc experts’ reports and the production “from the bottom” of new specialised knowledge. We shall describe these events as a case study to put ecological democracy to the test of facts, also through a comparison with the experimental actions taken in some Southern countries of the world. From Europe to Brazil, the debate on health and environmental risks resulting from modernisation is upsetting democratic societies and urging new forms of participation in the decision-making process. There is a clash between different “concepts of the world”, in which communication strategies play a crucial role and from whose outcome the society in which we wish to live in will emerge.

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