Visual communication

28/11/2022

This essay takes a starting point in the well-known tension between the media logic and the scientific logic and the challenges when communicating science in a mediatized society. Building on the experience of engaging in research comics, both as a method for communicating science and a creative example of a meeting between science and art, we introduce a framework — a pedagogical tool — for how science communication can be understood through the two competing logics. We contribute to literature about the balancing act of being a ‘legitimate expert’ and a ‘visible scientist’, and suggest that the meeting between science and art can be understood as a lens for how to communicate science that goes beyond the deficit model.

31/10/2022

This paper describes a school intervention focused on visual art and solar physics using science capital and STEAM methodologies to develop STEM engagement activities. Data from 40 children (aged 8–11) in two primary schools in the North East of England are presented, using pre- and post-intervention surveys which contained free-response and likert-scale questions. The paper presents a novel, and transferable, method of evaluating children’s drawings using online comparative judgement marking software, particularly suited to those without a background in qualitative research. Using comparative judgement this paper shows that the intervention led to a moderate increase in girls’ knowledge of solar physics.

26/10/2022

The ocean has a vast capacity for absorbing heat and carbon dioxide, seriously threatening local habitats for marine life. Challenges in connecting wider society with this crisis may originate in its poor visibility for non-specialists: the data can be inaccessible and hard to relate to. In a series of immersive community workshops, participants created artworks combining recent physical ocean climate data recorded in Otago, New Zealand, with impacts on local species from published studies. We found that crafting visual stories was a powerful way to distill greater meaning from complex climate data, and engage participants with harmful changes underway locally.

24/10/2022

Although Science Art (“SciArt”) is increasingly used in science communication as a way to make content more engaging or accessible, little is known about why artists pursue this practice or what they hope to achieve through their work. This project addresses these questions through a thematic analysis of interviews with 131 practicing science artists. We identify a diversity of goals for creating SciArt, only some of which involve communicating science.

01/08/2022

Protest placards are an important part of School Strike 4 Climate (SS4C) protest culture and illustrate how protesters view, understand and share their environmental concerns. Many of the placards use humor to convey the messages of their creators. Bringing together science communication and humor studies, this paper examines the communicative functions of humor in Australian SS4C posters by asking to what extent protest signs can be understood as a vehicle of science communication. The paper reveals how humorous protest placards become the means of grassroots creativity, exploring bottom-up science communication in an ambiguous, but accessible and enjoyable form.

25/07/2022

In an increasingly mediated culture, social institutions such as science, public health, and civic engagement exist within the same modes of discourse as popular media. As a human endeavor, science is also a cultural phenomenon, and there are webs of multidirectional and layered communication that occur between formal science communication, pop science, and, indeed, popular media. For public participants, engagement with science and entertainment may be one in the same. This essay draws from research of transformative works, fan studies, and memetics to examine how the public engages with science and popular media within digital cultures.

10/06/2022

Public Engagement with Science calls for scientists to think more reflexively about their research, and how assumptions, power and contexts influence associated communication. To interrogate this, we utilised design to stimulate reflexive thinking about science communication through a residential ‘Engagement Incubator’ that took the form of a pop-up cardboard laundromat. Participants reported an increased appreciation for, and insight into, PES theory, and its relevance to their work. In addition, our experience of enacting PES theory, and reflexive thematic analysis of data collected through the process, deepened our own understanding of PES and reinforced our appreciation of engagement as reproductive, and inherently circular work.

28/03/2022

Participatory media has the ability to engage people in stories of science in ways that are personal, profound and culturally relevant. This essay launches from my experience as a scientist-turned-filmmaker and my establishment of the Ocean Media Institute, a global media collective that serves as a participatory platform for the communication of ocean science. Through collaboration and innovation, we as science storytellers have the ability to shape narratives that are factual, evidence-based and embrace greater inclusivity. Only when we invite diverse perspectives that draw from all ways of knowing, will we be able to provoke deeper dialogue and ignite change.

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.

21/02/2022

This essay examines a highly popular comic series published in Spain between 1969 and 1970 which focused on Felix Rodríguez de la Fuente (1928–1980), a prominent and influential naturalist and media icon, as main character. These comics constitute a remarkably illustrative example of the use of popular media in processes of construction of natural history knowledge. Situated in the complex final years of Franco's regime, they allow us to probe the combined role of science, media, and celebrity in the construction of a visual environmental culture through storytelling strategies designed to engage young audiences in naturalist-like practices.

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