Science communication in the developing world

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.

22/08/2022

We investigated pro- and anti-vaccine rhetoric on two South African Facebook pages to identify the nature, sources and justifications of the vaccine-related claims published on these pages. Our dataset consisted of 440 Facebook posts made by page administrators during 2019. Statements related to the safety and necessity of vaccines dominated the pro-vaccine page, while the anti-vaccine page focussed primarily on claims about the dangers of vaccines. Posts on both pages frequently contained content shared from within Facebook, with much of the content originating from the United States. Both pages made equal use of scientific justifications (i.e. published journal articles) to support claims, and most of these articles were published in accredited journals. The authors hope that a better understanding of the nature, sources and justifications of pro- and anti-vaccine rhetoric may lead to more constructive dialogue about vaccines, including the ongoing debate about COVID-19 vaccines.

18/07/2022

At last, a compilation of essays that provide fascinating insights into Health Communication and Disease in Africa. Falade and Murire (eds.) have produced a volume which needed to be written and will delight those with an interest in health and science communication, public health, social and behaviour change, and theoretical approaches to health communication. Broad themes cover stigma, beliefs and traditions, and rethinking approaches to health communication. A key element is the effort to bridge ‘classical’ approaches to health communication and behaviour change with indigenous knowledge systems of people in Africa.

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.

28/06/2022

One of the recent “crises” experienced by science is associated with a decline in its public support. We conducted two factorial surveys among university students aiming at broadening our understanding of the information cues influencing the wider publics' judgments of science. We found that sociological and criminological research results are perceived as less plausible compared to neuroscientific and physiological research, but as more plausible than results from genetics. In contrast with the previous data on the importance of funding and institutional prestige cues as the indirect indicators of the research quality among academic experts, we discovered the absence of any effects of funding or institutional prestige for the selected type of general audience.

10/06/2022

Practitioners of responsible science communication in Latin American countries face context-dependent challenges ranging from high poverty and inequality to a public from an extremely varied palette of cultural backgrounds. Effort has been done in the region to foster a coherent community of science communicators. This article reflects on the history of science communication in Latin America and how these challenges are being faced.

28/03/2022

Concepts underpinning participatory science communication have much to offer science communication training and capacity building. This paper investigates a capacity building program with 15 science communicators from nine African countries involved in a six-week program in Australia. Data was collected via surveys, observations, informal interactions and ongoing relationships tracking program outcomes. Key features with a participatory nature included: holistic programs giving participants diverse skills and entry points; ensuring participant's freedom, agency, autonomy and self-efficacy; real-world networking as a self-directed participatory process; participant-led design processes to build skills for creating programs; and, embedding training in real-world contexts with deliberately selected publics.

09/12/2021

The impact of human activity on our planet is undeniable. However, this matter of fact is not fully understandable without analyzing the narratives through which people make sense of it. In this study, we aim to describe the narratives present in environmental discourses of Mexican and French YouTubers' videos. This corpus is intended to show how environmental issues are framed in the ever-growing discursive arena of entertainment and “influencing” streaming video. We set out to perform a cross-country comparison, with the purpose of contributing to the discussion of whether environmental discourse is country-specific or shared by various nations and, possibly, even global. Our study contributes to the understanding of the social construction of the environment via these discourses. Our main result points to a paradoxical treatment of environmental issues: the YouTubers of our sample represent them as collectively induced problems, but seem to mainly believe that individual-based solutions would resolve them. More broadly, our study suggests a tendency to the individualization and, therefore, the depoliticization of environmental issues as well as a globalization of the environmental discourses in YouTubers' videos.

11/10/2021

In 2021 Sweden’s first national portal for citizen science will be launched to help researchers practice sustainable and responsible citizen science with different societal stakeholders. This paper present findings from two surveys on attitudes and experiences of citizen science among researchers at Swedish universities. Both surveys provided input to the development of the national portal, for which researchers are a key stakeholder group. The first survey (n=636) was exclusively focused on citizen science and involved researchers and other personnel at Swedish University of Agricultural Science (SLU). 63% of respondents at SLU had heard about citizen science (CS) prior to the survey; however a majority of these (61%) had not been involved in any CS initiative themselves. Dominant reasons for researchers choosing a CS approach in projects were to enable collection of large amounts of data (68%), improving the knowledge base (59%), improving data quality (25%), promote participants’ understanding in research (21%) and promote collaboration between the university and society (20%). The other survey (n=3 699) was on the broader topic of communication and open science, including questions on CS, and was distributed to researchers from all Swedish universities. 61% of respondents had not been engaged in any research projects where volunteers were involved in the process. A minority of the researchers had participated in projects were volunteers had collected data (18%), been involved in internal or external communication (16%), contributed project ideas (14%) and/or formulated research questions (11%). Nearly four out of ten respondents (37%) had heard about CS prior to the survey. The researchers were more positive towards having parts of the research process open to citizen observation, rather than open to citizen influence/participation. Our results show that CS is a far from well-known concept among Swedish researchers. And while those who have heard about CS are generally positive towards it, researchers overall are hesitant to invite citizens to take part in the research process.

23/08/2021

In the year of the PCST Conference that brings together scholars and experts in public communication of science, Routledge published the new edition of the Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology, edited by Massimiano Bucchi and Brian Trench. The book, in its third edition, seeks to update and define the field of study and application of science communication from both a theoretical and empirical point of view mostly in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic which undoubtedly represents an event of historical significance that cannot fail to question scholars on the medium and long-term effects.

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