Public engagement with science and technology

30/01/2023

Andrew J. Hoffman, Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, has written “The Engaged Scholar — Expanding the Impact of Academic Research in Today's World” (2021 Stanford University Press). According to the author, most researchers want to make a difference, but academic institutions often do not value public engagement, leading to disengaged scientists. Hoffman gives and reexamines arguments for why scholars should engage with other parts of society. He conveys several tips on how to do it and encourages researchers to take part in public debate. The limitations of the current evaluation system are also scrutinized, and new measures of impact discussed. The book is worth reading for academic leaders and researchers, as well as science communicators and science journalists.

23/01/2023

Alongside informative discussions on Science Communication and Public Engagement, Forum Wissenschaftskommunikation 2022 reveals a field, a practice, and a community in transition. In and out of session discussions uncovered underlying tensions as well as potential synergies along a spectrum of practice between established disseminatory methodologies and participatory approaches. The future for best practice, collaboration, and growth for science communication in Germany will be a fascinating one to track.

16/01/2023

The paper highlights the feedback loop between media, politics, foreign influence and science in relation to the adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food production in Uganda to demonstrate that socio-cultural considerations are important in the GMO science and technology debates. Based on the science-in-society model, the findings from a content analysis of newspaper articles over a four-year period, supplemented by interviews with scientists, activists from non-governmental organisations, journalists, and Members of Parliament's Science and Technology Committee, the study found that food is a politically thick issue. Both activists and scientists opportunistically use the media, the platforms where the public access and contribute content, to appeal to the politicians to legislate GMOs in their favour, arguing that the activists or the scientists' position is in the `public interest'. Often, such coverage produces a paradox for the public by accelerating uncertainty regarding the science and the products of genetic modification, especially when politicians fail to decide for fear of the political implications of their action as is the case in Uganda.

21/12/2022

In their anthology, Olaf Kramer and Markus Gottschling demonstrate that a closer look at rhetoric as both the technique and the analytical tool concerned with persuasion can open up new perspectives on science communication for communication scientists as well as for practitioners.

07/12/2022

This paper presents an analysis of the scientists' perceptions of public communication on the scientific themes related to the archaeological sites of Atapuerca (Spain), which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Based on a qualitative/ethnographic methodology, testimonies from researchers were collected on the impact of dissemination in the field of heritage and scientific culture. Findings show a communication imprint that is inherent to the scientific and management project, in which the stakeholders perceive a great public responsibility.

23/11/2022

Aiming to address various fundamental questions regarding science communication solutions to a polarized post-COVID-19 world, the IAMCR 2022 Suzhou Pre-conference was held from 8 to 10 July 2022. More than 300 delegates gathered online to discuss a variety of topics related to science communication and public engagement with science in a post-COVID-19 world. With its focus on China, alongside the involvement of leading scholars from around the world, the conference provided an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the factors that shape science communication, and societal responses to science, in different country contexts.

21/11/2022

There is growing pressure within the scientific community for scientists to participate in public engagement of science (PES) activities. As such, science communication scholars have worked to identify factors that predict a scientist's intention to participate in PES activities. One factor that has not been explicated is the role of experience performing PES activities in the past on one's future behavioral intentions. Using an augmented theory of planned behavior, we examine how one's experience participating in a question-and-answer forum on the popular website Reddit affected scientists' willingness to participate in a future PES activity.

16/11/2022

In ‘Strategic Science Communication: A Guide to Setting the Right Objectives for More Effective Public Engagement’, authors John Besley and Anthony Dudo recognize the existing divide between practice and research in science communication and work to bridge this gap. The authors admirably balance actionable information for practitioners and the theoretical literatures underpinning them. Both of the book’s intended audiences, practitioners and researchers, can glean informative insight from its pages. The text focuses on 12 communication objectives that research suggests are at the core of effective science communication and each chapter is written using straightforward language that makes the book accessible for newcomers to the discipline. For the time-pressed science communication practitioner, each chapter includes a summary with driving questions that relate to implementation of the tactic covered in that chapter. For scholars in science communication, the chapters are good starting points for deeper examination of the related literature. Throughout the book, the authors acknowledge that the strategic communication of science is a significant challenge, one that is not to be taken lightly and can, and should, be evidence-based.

14/11/2022

It is often assumed that citizen science is inherently participatory in nature. However, citizen science projects exist along a continuum from data contribution to full co-creation. We invited 19 biologists to explore their conceptions of citizen science. Almost all participants defined citizen science as involving non-scientists in data collection. This definition acted as a barrier for scientists who did not see how citizen science could suit their research objectives. While interviewees perceived many societal and experiential benefits of contributory citizen science, deliberate design is needed to realise the full potential of citizen science for public engagement.

26/10/2022

The ocean has a vast capacity for absorbing heat and carbon dioxide, seriously threatening local habitats for marine life. Challenges in connecting wider society with this crisis may originate in its poor visibility for non-specialists: the data can be inaccessible and hard to relate to. In a series of immersive community workshops, participants created artworks combining recent physical ocean climate data recorded in Otago, New Zealand, with impacts on local species from published studies. We found that crafting visual stories was a powerful way to distill greater meaning from complex climate data, and engage participants with harmful changes underway locally.

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