Public engagement with science and technology

09/05/2022

In recent years, access to science content production has been democratized. New actors can make their discourses reach large audiences through popular platforms with no institutional gatekeeping. However, it remains unclear which conceptions of the science-society relationship underlie science content created by non-corporate individuals. To explore how science communication cultures of boosters and critics inform this kind of science content in Spanish, we conducted a qualitative content analysis of a sample of 50 videos from ten YouTube science channels. Our results suggest that more accessible science communication does not necessarily entail a democratized view of science but may reinforce a traditional perspective.

02/05/2022

Citizen consultations are public participation mechanisms designed to inform public policy and promote public dialogue. This article describes a deliberative consultation conducted within the CONCISE project framework. The aim was to gather qualitative knowledge about the means and channels through which European citizens acquire science-related knowledge, and how these influence their opinions and perceptions with respect to four socially relevant topics: vaccines, complementary and alternative medicine, genetically modified organisms, and climate change. In 2019, the CONCISE project carried out five citizen consultations in Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Italy and Portugal to explore the understanding of nearly 500 citizens, enabling the development of a standard for the carrying out of citizen consultations on science communication.

26/04/2022

In 2020, National Science Week events shifted online in response to Australian COVID-19 restrictions. Our research captures this rapid pivot from in-person to online science events, exploring experiences through audience and presenter questionnaires, and follow-up interviews. We examine characteristics of audiences for online science events, benefits and barriers of these events, and opportunities for online engagement. Key benefits were ease of attendance, new experiences enabled online, and greater control and flexibility. Lack of social interaction, technology issues, and audience reliability were identified as barriers. Our research suggests online events operate in a different sphere to in-person events and informs the delivery of engaging online experiences.

11/04/2022

In this editorial, we reflect on our new roles as Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editor of JCOM. We acknowledge the work of previous editors of JCOM, the Editorial Office and the wider JCOM community who have contributed to the success of the journal. We introduce the new Editorial Board and future directions for the journal, and we encourage suggestions from authors, reviewers and readers for taking the journal forward.

28/03/2022

Participatory science communication featured in several sessions and individual papers at the 2021 online conference of the Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) Network. This coverage recognises the drive away from linear communication to more participatory forms of science communication. In this special edition we present practice insights, papers and essays that explore participatory science communication. These contributions explore definitions, processes and describe case-studies of participatory science communication which involve a variety of publics, from young school students to Indigenous groups to farmers. In this introductory editorial we reflect on the papers, describe the growth of a participatory approach as part of the continuing evolution of science communication; explore a definition for participatory science communication; and consider some of the key concepts and issues that emerged.

28/03/2022

In this “practice insight” we present a series of experiences run by Association Traces, injecting participatory approaches into science engagement activities by valuing the knowledge of the public rather than focusing on their ignorance. Starting from the observation that a sort of hybridization is occurring between cultural activities and public engagement with science on one side, and co-creation and participatory activities on the other, we provide some insight on the features of each approach. Examples are then used to highlight the potential value of this hybridization: as a way of making participatory activity more recognizable and accessible to a wide audience; to ensure that scientists have a professional interest in engaging in the communication activity; to raise a sense of ownership and empowerment in the audience, etc. These examples will eventually show that participation may lead to science communication practices that are socially-inclusive and/or productive for research, and ideally both.

28/03/2022

In this practice insight, an art-based, participatory intervention (#finaltrashtination) is presented as higher education assignment in environmental and climate change communication. The project #finaltrashtination made dominant environmentally destructive ways of wasting visible and stimulated students to take responsibility, advocacy and authorship for transformation. Beyond the one-day eco-culture jam, the project engaged the wider public through conversations about a specific environmental problem. Thus, the project shows how conversational problematization and sensemaking around scientific facts can be initiated by using eco-culture jams promoting very unsettling moments of reflection.

28/03/2022

Despite the societal relevance of energy research, there is a distinct lack of citizen science initiatives in the field. This paper reports the experience of a participatory and innovative strategy to develop a citizen science initiative for solar energy research. A number of stakeholders participated in the definition and implementation of the initiative, and tools such as surveys and a hackathon were employed. The process described aims to provide a blueprint for transforming the relationship between citizens and research into societal challenges. Here we describe the collaborative process and analyse the main opportunities, limitations and future perspectives.

28/03/2022

Young children are actors usually excluded from political decisions and also from many science communication projects. Participatory science communication models can help to connect their everyday life with both local policies and science-related content. Using visual methodologies for engagement, we aimed at understanding what preschool children prefer in the city landscape. Results show how young children envision a “better city” and how that construction might defy current scientific knowledge. It further illustrates how science communication can be used to co-produce new knowledge, contributing to the debate about people's needs and perceptions related to science-based options.

28/03/2022

This study provides a practice insight into campus/community co-farming as a communication experience connecting civic participants and experts in exploring the potential applications of smart agriculture. The observation focuses on participants' perceptions of smart-agri practices. The objectives of smart-agri practices have been identified to reduce negative environmental impact and meet local challenges; their development corresponds to the civic value-driven experience of promoting sustainable agriculture with low-risk, trackable information. Relatively few studies on smart-agri communication have engaged with the non-expert level. The findings highlight a viable participatory communication form of problem-solving, the public's trust of expertise, and a vision for inclusive socio-economic applications of smart agriculture.

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