Science communication in the developing world

30/03/2020

How a discipline's history is written shapes its identity. Accordingly, science communicators opposed to cultural exclusion may seek cross-cultural conceptualizations of science communication's past, beyond familiar narratives centred on the recent West. Here I make a case for thinking about science communication history in these broader geotemporal terms. I discuss works by historians and knowledge keepers from the Indigenous Australian Yorta Yorta Nation who describe a geological event their ancestors witnessed 30,000 ybp and communicated about over generations to the present. This is likely one of the oldest examples of science communication, warranting a prominent place in science communication histories.

17/02/2020

Science communication is proliferating in the developing world, however, with respect to science centres, as a whole Africa is being left behind. Here 15 participants in a capacity building program are investigated using traditional needs-based and contemporary asset-based development conceptualisations. These development theories parallel deficit and participatory approaches, respectively, within science communication and demonstrate synergies between the fields. Data showed staffing, funding, governments, host institutions, and audiences are prominent needs and assets, networks are a major asset, and identified other influential factors. Analysis suggests a coordinated model involving individuals, host institutions and governments to facilitate growth of African science centres.

03/02/2020

Science communication research is dominated by Western countries. While their research provides insight into best practices, their findings cannot be generalized to developing countries. This study examined the science communication challenges encountered by scientists and science communicators from Manila, Philippines through an online survey and semi-structured, investigative interviews. Their answers revealed issues which have been echoed in other international studies. However, challenges of accessibility and local attitudes to science were magnified within the Philippine context. These results indicate the ubiquity of certain challenges in science communication and the need for country-specific science communication frameworks. Further research on the identified challenges is needed on a local and global scale.

15/05/2018

This paper deals with the journalistic coverage of biologically active compounds presented as promising drugs in Brazil. The sample consists of 214 journalistic stories on 40 compounds published in two daily newspapers and a monthly science magazine from January 1990 to December 2016. After 27 years, although journalists and scientists had claimed that all compounds would become drugs in a few years, only two completed the evaluation tests and were approved for commercialisation. The paper provides a series of strategies to build a more analytical view on drug research and development.

13/03/2018

Climate change is a global risk as its causes and effects are not limited to national borders, but the risks and the responsibility are not evenly spread [Beck, 2009]. Pakistan is facing especially severe impacts in the form of disasters, floods, droughts, rising temperatures, cyclones and rising sea levels due to global emissions, despite its national emissions being nominal and accounting for only 0.46% of worldwide emissions [World Bank, 2018]. Ironically, the level of public awareness of climate change is low in Pakistan compared to not only advanced countries, but also to other countries in the South Asian region [Zaheer and Colom, 2013]. A contributing factor behind this is the communication gap between the media and the broader public. This study aims to explore the factors responsible for the limited coverage of climate change in the news media, leading to confusion, uncertainty, denial and low levels of climate change awareness in Pakistan. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with media professionals and the findings show that political, economic, social, cultural, technological and scientific factors influence the news coverage of climate change issues.

27/02/2018

The 10th World Conference of Science Journalists (San Francisco, U.S.A., 26–30 October 2017) was the most successful to date in terms of participants and probably the one with the largest presence of journalists from the developing world among its attendees and speakers. In agreement with the times, its themes were marked by ethical dilemmas in the communication of science, fake news and climate change, among others.

24/10/2017

Marked by the diversity of initiatives linking science and art and by new presentation formats, the 15th Congress of the Network for Popularisation of Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean (RedPOP) saw heated debates on science, culture, politics and society. Between 21st and 25th August, it brought together in Buenos Aires (Argentina) about 400 participants from 14 countries in order to share new visions, initiatives and research work in science communication. During the event, which included a vast cultural programme, a series of challenges were raised for the future development of the field.

20/07/2017

Science communication is today a well-established ―although young― area of research. However, there are only a few books and papers analyzing how science communication has developed historically. Aiming to, in some way, contribute to filling this gap, JCOM organized this special issue on the History of Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST), joining 15 contributions, from different parts of the globe. The papers published in this issue are organized in three groups, though with diffuse boundaries: geography, media, and discipline. The first group contains works that deal descriptively and critically with the development of PCST actions and either general or specific public policies for this area in specific countries. A second set of papers examines aspects of building science communication on TV or in print media. The third group of papers presents and discusses important PCST cases in specific areas of science or technology at various historical moments.

20/07/2017

The research field of science communication is fairly neglected in South Africa. The university system in South Africa, with a few exceptions, pays scant attention to the teaching of science communication, leading to limited academic knowledge of this research field with its rich history and philosophical relations. This paper explores some of the reasons behind this neglect of science communication in South Africa and will argue and demonstrate that, primarily, two political systems can be identified as having had a profound impact on the lesser attention given to this research field; the ‘divide and rule’ system of British colonialism and the Afrikaner National Party ‘apartheid’ system of racial segregation.

03/05/2017

Research in the field of science communication started emerging about 50 years ago and has since then matured as a field of academic enquiry. Early findings about research-active authors and countries reveal that scholarly activity in the field has traditionally been dominated by male authors from English-speaking countries in the West. The current study is a systematic, bibliographic analysis of a full sample of research papers that were published in the three most prominent journals in the field from 1979 to 2016. The findings reveal that early inequities remain prevalent, but also that there are indications that recent increases in research outputs and trends in authorship patterns ― for example the growth in female authorship ― are beginning to correct some of these imbalances. Furthermore, the current study verifies earlier indications that science communication research is becoming increasingly institutionalised and internationalised, as demonstrated by an upward trend in papers reflecting cross-institutional collaboration and the diversity of countries where authors are based.

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