Globalisation in Science Communication

Transcultural perspectives have been at the heart of our PCST network for three decades. Due to the more institutionalised and internationalised PCST research activities in Latin America, Central Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, it is timely to facilitate a strategic discussion beyond the membership as to how we should respond to these internationalisation tendencies. Our Ballagio conference brings together ‘lateral thinkers’ from all over the world, hence offering us the opportunity to reflect on the opportunities and risks of globalisation in Science Communication research and practice, as also suggested in a proposal of mine for Dunedin.

It appears obvious to assume that supporting cross-cultural activities is inherently the best approach for a global organisation. However, there are different forms, objectives, and even risks involved, which deserve an open discussion in the community.

Despite the fact that the community has been “comparing analyses” between cultures, there are hardly any initiatives to “analyse these comparatively”. In addition to moving (i) from comparing models to comparative modes of research, the workshop want to discuss means of moving (ii) from sharing experiences to shared experiences by means of actual trans-cultural collaboration.

Disciplines such as Anthropology have long demonstrated the potential of learn from the strengths and weaknesses of different systems, which in our case would be certain policy instruments, communication strategies, engagement tools, or evaluation methods and standards.

Now that we have built bridges between institutions, people, and thus cultures or continents, the challenges more than ever lie in establishing effective links between (i) scholarship and practice; and (ii) between different scientific disciplines, as shown in the 2016 NAS Report and our own Global Research Field Analysis for Science Communication (yet unpublished).

Since “Globalisation” is widely associated with a hegemony, could the quantitative success of formats such as FameLab or Science Centres even be seen as qualitatively counter-productive, e.g. regarding the risk of overriding diversity of both challenges and approaches across the world, an issue also raised by Brian, last year in AR magazine? While many globalisation tendencies in SC are quite obvious, such as FameLab in meanwhile 30 countries, Science Cafés in more than 60 countries, ScienceCentres in possibly 100 countries, several such internationally popular formats are actually quite open and adaptable such as the Irish “ScienceGallery” concept, whereas others are almost exactly the same wherever they take place in the world. Once again, which of these tendencies are effective (regarding which objectives)?

Could globalisation potentially turn unique approaches (in biodiversity we would call them “endemic”) into ‘endangered species’. How can the PCST Network weigh carefully when it should protect this diversity, and when instead certain global standards are required?