Public engagement with science and technology

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.

27/01/2020

As the digital revolution continues and our lives become increasingly governed by smart technologies, there is a rising need for reflection and critical debate about where we are, where we are headed, and where we want to be. Against this background, the paper suggests that one way to foster such discussion is by engaging with the world of fiction, with imaginative stories that explore the spaces, places, and politics of alternative realities. Hence, after a concise discussion of the concept of speculative fiction, we introduce the notion of datafictions as an umbrella term for speculative stories that deal with the datafication of society in both imaginative and imaginable ways. We then outline and briefly discuss fifteen datafictions subdivided into five main categories: surveillance; social sorting; prediction; advertising and corporate power; hubris, breakdown, and the end of Big Data. In a concluding section, we argue for the increased use of speculative fiction in education, but also as a tool to examine how specific technologies are culturally imagined and what kind of futures are considered plausible given current implementations and trajectories.

14/10/2019

There is a renewed interest amongst science communication practitioners and scholars to explore the potential of storytelling in public communication of science, including to understand how science storytelling functions (or could fail) in different contexts. Drawing from storytelling as the core theme of the 2018 conference of the Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) Network, we present a selection of papers, essays and practice insights that offer diverse perspectives. Some contributions focus on the cultural and structural qualities of science stories and its key success factors, while others explore new formats, platforms and collaborators in science storytelling activities.

14/10/2019

Can we really say what type of story has impact on us, and what type of story does not? Evidence suggests that we can. But we need to better understand the way that stories work on us, at a neural and empathetic level, and better understand the ways that the elements of stories, such as structure and metaphor work. By combining scientific research with the deeper wisdom of traditional storytelling we have both a deep knowledge married to scientific evidence — which can be very powerful tools for science communicators.

14/10/2019

Student engagement is an important predictor of choosing science-related careers and establishing a scientifically literate society: and, worryingly, it is on the decline internationally. Conceptions of science are strongly affected by school experience, so one strategy is to bring successful science communication strategies to the classroom. Through a project creating short science films on mobile devices, students' engagement greatly increased through collaborative learning and the storytelling process. Teachers were also able to achieve cross-curricular goals between science, technology, and literacy. We argue that empowering adolescents as storytellers, rather than storylisteners, is an effective method to increase engagement with science.

09/09/2019

Live science events engage publics with science in a social context. This article articulates the aims and ethos of this growing sector within a research context. Semi-structured interviews (N=13) and focus groups (N=77) were conducted with event practitioners (both professional and volunteers) in the U.S.A. and U.K.. Inductive thematic analysis indicated that event producers aim to raise awareness of and professionalism in the sector. In particular, they seek to develop research into long-term impacts of events for both audiences and practitioners.

02/09/2019

Fiction is often credited with shaping public attitudes to science, but little science communication research has studied fans' deep engagement with a science-themed fiction text. This study used a survey to investigate the impacts of television series ‘Doctor Who’ (1963–89; 2005–present) on its viewers' attitudes to science, including their education and career choices and ideas about science ethics and the science-society relationship. The program's reported impacts ranged from causing participants to fact-check ‘Doctor Who’'s science to inspiring them to pursue a science career, or, more commonly, prompting viewers to think broadly and deeply about science's social position in diverse ways.

26/08/2019

The research explores the differential impact of exposure to one-sided vs. two-sided satire about climate change on message processing. Analyzing experimental data (N =141) we find that one-sided satire offered by ‘The Onion’ ironically claiming that global warming is a hoax encourages viewers to engage in greater message elaboration and counterarguing. In contrast, two-sided satire offered by ‘The Weather Channel’ that makes jokes about those who believe in vs. reject human involvement in climate change is quickly discounted. We conclude by discussing the strategic value of incorporating one-sided satirical humor in communication efforts focused on climate change engagement.

29/07/2019

Keyes [2004, p. 15] says: “In the post-truth era we don't just have truth or lies but a third category of ambiguous statements that are not exactly the truth but fall short of a lie”. In this paper about Hector's and Maui dolphin management in New Zealand, we argue that some scientific knowledge about these species presented and disseminated in ways that equate to this third category and as such may be classed as ‘post-truth type communication’. This generates citizen mistrust in science, scientists and government agencies and inflames conflict among informed stakeholders. We argue trust may be rebuilt by a combination of deliberative approaches to environmental governance, transparency about uncertainties, information gaps and divergent scientific opinions, and reformulation of normal scientific approaches and assumptions to those advocated by post-normal science.

22/07/2019

‘Catan’® (1995) is a multiplayer tabletop game with global sales of over 20 million copies. Presented here is an exploration of the steps that were taken in the development of the ‘Catan: Global Warming’ expansion, from prototype to final design. During the playtesting of the game the feedback that we received from a variety of playtesters indicated that the game mechanics (rather than any accompanying story) were an effective and elegant way of developing dialogue around a specific topic, in this instance global warming. We conclude that in order to develop such a game, consideration must be given to: the accessibility of the game, the game literacy of the proposed players, the playtesting of the game mechanics, the peer review of the scientific content, and the extent to which the metagame (i.e. those discussions that take place around and away from the game) is enabled.

Pages

Subscribe to Public engagement with science and technology