Revision to Session #5

Refining Session #5

The organizers have asked me to organize and expand Session #5 on Wednesday afternoon in Bellagio.  The topic as stated is, “What role can science communication and practice play in connecting with policy makers?”

I see the discussion centered around three streams:

1) Exploring public perception and tribal identity of science/scientists and policy makers in the emergent populist/nationalist social landscape, understanding that the issues may be different for the scientific enterprise vs individual scientists (and vis a vis the inherent globalism in science practice)

2) Framing science/scientists in the emergent (in some societies) social space of anti-intellectualism, populism and nationalism/globalism

3) (Re)Framing communication of science/by scientists with policy actors (policy makers and decision leaders)  for Rockefeller — an advocacy role or new models of engagement?  

I’d like to structure the first stream — the first 90 minutes before the tea break — as a panel discussion with expectations of substantive audience participation that I will facilitate.  The conversation in this first half of the session will be devoted to locating science (and scientists, who may be differently located)  in the current socio-political landscape of nationalism/globalism, populism/elitism, and anti-intellectualism (and test whether this is only or primarily a Western world problem).  While this issue may have come up in some of the previous discussion in the agenda, this is our chance to explicitly drill down into the specific challenges of communicating with people who are likely situated on polarized ends of the socio-political spectrum.

When we come back from tea, I’d like to pick up stream 2 by asking practitioners in the room to locate their own practice(s) in the landscape, and then expand the discussion with an in-depth look at how some practitioners negotiate policy-maker communication.  Inherent in this discussion is the challenge of whether/where these practices are consonant with or could benefit from re-framing the role of science / scientists in the minds of policy makers/decision leaders.  One outcome of this discussion stream is likely to be recommending different/other/innovative models of engagement that don’t depend on the historically close relationship of science with Big Government.

We will engage stream 3 by inviting two of our attendees to offer substantive synthesis/capstone remarks on the topic that bear directly on what advice or models we would offer to Rockefeller for engaging policy makers/decision leaders in support of the four initiatives (and whether our advice may differ depending on the initiative or the social landscape).

To help inform Session #5 I will be adding some materials from Jonathan Haidt’s moral/social psychology work (on what really drives conservative/liberal ideology) and Dan Kahan’s research in cultural cognition (and tribal identity of ideological tribes).

In the next two days I’ll be reaching out to some of you for help with this session; please say yes if I do!