Public engagement with science and technology

14/12/2020

Twelve researchers from 11 countries used autoethnographic techniques, keeping diaries over 10 weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, to observe and reflect on changes in the role and cultural authority of science during important stages of viral activity and government action in their respective countries. We followed arguments, discussions and ideas generated by mass and social media about science and scientific expertise, observed patterns and shifts in narratives, and made international comparisons. During regular meetings via video conference, the participating researchers discussed theoretical approaches and our joint methodology for reflecting on our observations. This project is informed by social representations theory, agenda-setting, and frames of meaning associated with the rise and fall of expertise and trust. This paper presents our observations and reflections on the role and authority of science in our countries from March 10 to May 31, 2020. This is the first stage of a longer-term project that aims to identify, analyse and compare changes in science-society relationships over the course of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

04/11/2020

This paper identifies the diverse ways in which participants engage with science, through the same citizen science project. Using multiple data sources, we describe various activities conducted by citizen scientists in an air quality project, and characterize the motivations driving their engagement. Findings reveal several themes, indicative of participants motivations and engagement; worried residents, education and outreach, environmental action, personal interest and opportunistic engagement. The study further illustrates the interconnectivity between science communication and citizen science practices and calls for nurturing this relationship for the mutual advancement of both fields.

01/09/2020

In this series of comments, we argue for Science Communication as an enabler of transdisciplinary, integrative collaboration in the context of today’s complex, multi-stakeholder issues. Participatory design, as a collaborative method, is effective in achieving mutual learning, shared understandings, integrating disciplines and creating solutions that make sense in the multi-layered reality of today’s challenges. Science Communication, therefore, is communication design in transdisciplinary collaborations.

20/07/2020

In this era of pandemics, economic crises and civil unrest, science centres and museums have an opportunity to become truly relevant resources to society. This paper summarises a number of critical lessons from the PISEA International Symposium, a conference held the at the Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art in Vienna from the 17th–18th of October 2019. The purpose of this event was to share, learn, and discuss ways in which engagement with migrants and refugee populations might be improved within informal science learning spaces. Issues around integration, inclusive art-science practice, and shifting institutional policy and language were all explored. This paper also calls for the committed reform of informal science spaces, and a renewed commitment to responsive, equitable, and inclusive practice.

16/06/2020

This special issue of JCOM features six commentary articles from the research stream of the Australian Science Communicators conference, held in February 2020. These opportunistic assessments and deliberate analyses explore important themes of trust, engagement, and communication strategy across a diverse range of scientific contexts. Together, they demonstrate the importance of opportunities to come together and share the research that underpins our practice. The conference and these commentaries enable us to engage in professional development during these exceptional times when successful evidence-based science communication is of critical significance.

27/04/2020

We present a novel approach to communicating abstract concepts in cosmology and astrophysics in a more accessible and inclusive manner. We describe an exhibit aiming at creating an immersive, multisensory metaphorical experience of an otherwise imperceptible physical phenomenon — dark matter. Human-Computer Interaction experts and physicists co-created a multisensory journey through dark matter by exploiting the latest advances in haptic and olfactory technology. We present the concept design of a pilot and a second, improved event, both held at the London Science Museum, including the practical setup of the multisensory dark matter experience, the delivery of sensory stimulation and preliminary insights from users' feedback.

20/04/2020

This essay explores the relationship of science communication and public relations and contends that science communication has something to learn from public relations research. I provide an alternate history of public relations, drawn from the history of social movements (activism). I outline two areas from public relations theory: first, notions of human agency and equity in communication and, second, public interest in public communication. In doing so, I highlight how research from critical public relations could contribute to science communication efforts to enable participation with science and technology from wider, more diverse publics.

14/04/2020

Blogs provide potential for publics to engage more deliberatively through dialogue in controversial science than one-way dissemination methods. This study investigated who was commenting on two antithetical climate change blogsites; how they were commenting; and the quality of their dialogue. Most research into science blogs has focused on bloggers rather than commenters. This study found that both blogsites were dominated by a small number of commenters who used contractive dialogue to promote their own views to like-minded commenters. Such blogsites are consolidating their own polarised publics rather than deliberately engaging them in climate change science.

09/03/2020

Many studies have examined the impression that the general public has of science and how this can prevent girls from choosing science fields. Using an online questionnaire, we investigated whether the public perception of several academic fields was gender-biased in Japan. First, we found the gender-bias gap in public perceptions was largest in nursing and mechanical engineering. Second, people who have a low level of egalitarian attitudes toward gender roles perceived that nursing was suitable for women. Third, people who have a low level of egalitarian attitudes perceived that many STEM fields are suitable for men. This suggests that gender-biased perceptions toward academic fields can still be found in Japan.

29/01/2020

Build SciComm, an international symposium on strategies for fostering science communication in Japan held at the University of Tsukuba in November 2019, brought together academics and practitioners to discuss issues faced by the field in Japan and vision for future direction. Informally, the symposium was well received and generally considered to be a useful and stimulating event. We discuss issues to be considered for future incarnations and explain why this symposium provides an important forum for inclusive discussions on fundamental questions about the nature of science communication in Japan.

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