Public engagement with science and technology

28/09/2022

Social media have become popular channels for sharing and discussing science issues. Drawing from the classic communication theory, Public Arena Model, this paper examines how issue entrepreneurs influenced the Chinese public's cognition of GMO, especially the role of celebrities and scientists in controversial science communication. To answer this question, we used the structural topic modeling method to examine public discussion about GMO on a popular Q&A site in China (Zhihu) from 2014 to 2019 (N=40,101). In study 1, we investigated what the major themes of public discourse are about GMO and the evolution of these themes in general. In study 2, we investigated public discourse in a more specific context, an iconic event in China's GMO history, a debate between a TV celebrity and a scientist, to examine how two major issue entrepreneurs influenced what and how the public deliberated GMO\@. We found that the issue entrepreneurs' debate increased public discussion on the ‘science communication’ aspect of GMO yet decreased public discussion on the ‘science’ of GMO. Supporters of different entrepreneurs are divided in their attitudes and rhetoric toward GMO. These findings shed new light on how social media is a digital embodiment of the public arena where public deliberation about controversial science occur and evolve.

21/09/2022

The 2022 Ecsite conference took place in Heilbronn, Germany, from 2–4 June after two years of virtual meetings due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This review presents some highlights of this event, including two memorable keynote talks by disability activist Sinéad Burke and author/educator Lucy Hawking.

19/09/2022

Experiences of awe and wonder are vital to science and innovation. In this practice insight we explore how these emotions shape the culture of science communication. In doing so, we examine how exclusively nature- and place-based experiences for awe and wonder are often features of resource-limited settings. We then describe strategies for awe- and wonder-centred science communication beyond reliance on nature or the power of place by detailing a successful hybrid resourcing model in a rural Australian science centre. We finish by describing the role of science communicators in engaging potential collaborators to enable science communication in resource-limited settings.

12/09/2022

During the Covid-19 pandemic the world faced enormous challenges demanding immediate responses. As a result, public communication of science assumed unprecedented prominence. Now, we need to stop, listen and act. This was the motto of the 10th Annual Congress of Science Communication in Portugal — SciComPt 2022. The meeting provided participants with exactly that — an opportunity to reflect on the past and help build the future of science communication in Portugal.

05/09/2022

Introduction: Engagement, education and communication with public audiences have long been seen as important for maximising the benefits of genetics and genomics. An important challenge is how to structure engagement in such a way that recognises the value and legitimacy of diverse public opinions and voices alongside scientific expertise. In other words, how to operationalise the dialogue model of science communication. In order for diverse public voices to be heard it is important to understand the resources that people have to make sense of science on their own terms. In this paper we provide a framework for how people's resources can be identified in relation to the culture they consume. Methods: A cross sectional online survey (n=1407) explored the cultural tastes and practices of a representative British public audience. Latent class analysis identified groups with similar cultural practices. Regression analysis was used to explore the relationship between the latent classes and other measures, such beliefs about genetics. Results: Three latent classes were identified each with distinctive cultural practices and tastes. Some clear relationships were found between the latent classes and familiarity with genetic terminology. However, for more complex beliefs, such as genetic causation, regression analysis yielded null or uncertain results with no clear correlation found. Discussion: This paper provides an analysis of how people's enjoyment of culture could be a resource for understanding and advancing science communication and engagement. The results are discussed using two complementary theoretical frameworks. Using Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital, the exclusionary power culture can be seen. The work of De Certaeu, on the other hand, shows how this power can be resisted and subverted. While this paper focuses on genetics and genomics we argue that this approach provides a `proof of concept' that these ideas can be extended for use in wider science engagement contexts.

08/08/2022

The Future of SciComm 2.0 conference was a one-day event in Brussels on April 26th 2022. Focusing on the future of European science communication, sixty participants from twelve countries with different expertise discussed the current challenges and possible solutions for the field. Key themes centred around disinformation, communicating global challenges, evidence-based practices and institutional structures woven through the plenary opening, afternoon workshops and the closing public panel discussion. The conclusion is a need for an European science communication ecosystem that is transdisciplinary, connected and cooperative in practice, weaving between policy, research and industry. Finally, citizen science and open science could be included as scholarly praxes to facilitate societal interconnectivity.

25/07/2022

In an increasingly mediated culture, social institutions such as science, public health, and civic engagement exist within the same modes of discourse as popular media. As a human endeavor, science is also a cultural phenomenon, and there are webs of multidirectional and layered communication that occur between formal science communication, pop science, and, indeed, popular media. For public participants, engagement with science and entertainment may be one in the same. This essay draws from research of transformative works, fan studies, and memetics to examine how the public engages with science and popular media within digital cultures.

12/07/2022

The latest in a growing number of edited volumes that take science communication as a phenomenon to be explored through science cultures is a rich book full of theoretical and methodological rigour. There are 17 chapters included here from 33 authors across 16 different countries containing selected paper contributions from the 2018 Science & You conference in Beijing jointly organised by the Chinese National Academy of Innovation Strategy and the University of Lorraine, France. With an opening address by Massimiano Bucchi, chapters are arranged thematically, with emphasis on the roles of institutions, state and media in the social dynamics and public understandings of science and technology across global cultures.

10/06/2022

Science communication is at the heart of many of the challenges our societies face today. At the same time, on-going changes in the relationship between science and society and the digitalisation of society can make science communication itself into a complex challenge. How can science communication adapt to an ever-changing landscape and take on new roles? In this issue we explore the potential of ‘responsible science communication’ to support and develop meaningful, open and trustworthy relationships between science and society. We present a selection of papers that review three crucial dimensions of ‘responsible science communication: reflexivity, inclusivity and co-creation’. Integrating theory and practice, this issue advocates that researchers and practitioners should be mindful of these dimensions to create meaningful conversations about science and our future.

10/06/2022

Public Engagement with Science calls for scientists to think more reflexively about their research, and how assumptions, power and contexts influence associated communication. To interrogate this, we utilised design to stimulate reflexive thinking about science communication through a residential ‘Engagement Incubator’ that took the form of a pop-up cardboard laundromat. Participants reported an increased appreciation for, and insight into, PES theory, and its relevance to their work. In addition, our experience of enacting PES theory, and reflexive thematic analysis of data collected through the process, deepened our own understanding of PES and reinforced our appreciation of engagement as reproductive, and inherently circular work.

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