The Bellagio science communication meeting includes 22 participants from 15 different countries. They represent a diversity of cultures and interests from science communication scholarship and practice. All participants are members of the International Network for the Public Communication of Science & Technology.
Ayelet Baram-Tsabari (Israel)
Head of the Science Communication Research Group, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
I am an Associate Professor at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, where I head the Science Communication research group. My training in science education (PhD, Weizmann Institute of Science) and science communication (visiting scholar, Cornell University) alongside rich experience as a journalist, editor, and a TV presenter, shaped my interest in building a community of science communication practitioners and scholars. I have founded the Israeli Science Communication Conference series and use my position as an elected member of the Israel Young Academy to build a national infrastructure for science communication training for scientists.
I care a lot about the international community of science communication, and was honored to become an elected member of the international PCST Network scientific committee. As with many others in our community, I believe our expertise should directly impact society, therefore I also serve as the chair of the research committee at the council of the Second Authority for Television and Radio, the public authority that supervises commercial broadcasting in Israel.
My areas of interest are finding evidence for the usefulness of science education for non-scientists, identifying non-scientist’s interests and needs in science and building on these authentic interests to communicate science in more meaningful and personally relevant ways, and supporting scientists’ in communicating their science effectively, including international collaborations to develop learning goals and measurements for the outcomes of science communication training.
Rick Borchelt (USA)
Director of Communications and Public Affairs, US Department of Energy
For most of my professional career, I have been involved in public communication about science policy and the importance of federal investment in science and technology. I come from an undergraduate and post-graduate background in natural history interpretation, and this early training positioned me well for a series of opportunities to “interpret” for the public the research findings and policy recommendations for four major research universities, six federal agencies, the US National Academy of Sciences, the environmental programme of the United Nations, a committee of the US House of Representatives, and The White House.
This rather chequered career path has provided a unique insight into how, why, and with what effectiveness research-performing agencies justify their place at the public funding table, and to observe first-hand a significant sea change in the West in public attitudes toward science, scientists, and science agencies.
I am particularly interested in conversations we might have at the Bellagio Centre to better understand the difference between what is currently described as a “war on science” as opposed to an ideological “war on government,” and what it means for public support for government funding of discovery research and public trust in policy informed by science. Contemporary populist political communication includes a strong element of disdain for, and even outright antagonism toward, privileged elites of many kinds, including intellectual and scientific elites – as scientists and science communicators, we need to fully comprehend this dialogue and its impact on science.
Peter Broks (UK/Germany)
Lecturer and researcher, Department of Science Communication, Rhine-Waal University
I get the sense that the world of science communication could be at a turning point…..but then again I get that sense every five years or so and I have been working in this area since the early 1980s. Maybe this time?
In the 1980s I came to science communication through a cultural analysis of Victorian and Edwardian mass media. This cultural approach has stayed with me ever since and, I believe, continues to be a missing key element in current approaches to science communication. There is more to this than surveys of behaviours and attitudes. Our concerns should be not just for science communication as information transfer but with the ways that meanings are created and circulated within a culture. I put all this together in my book “Understanding Popular Science” (Open University 2006).
Consequently what is needed is cultural change, which is why I find the idea of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) attractive. Maybe RRI can bring the cultural change in ways that standard science communication cannot. At present I am part of the Horizon2020 NUCLEUS project, which aims to bring such cultural change by embedding RRI into the governance of research institutions. If we bring this cultural turn to our science communication practice then we may discover that it is no longer “science communication” at all, and that would certainly be a turning point worth exploring in Bellagio.
Lloyd Spencer Davis (New Zealand)
Stuart Professor of Science Communication, University of Otago
I come to this meeting as the Director of New Zealand’s Centre for Science Communication, which is soon-to-be-announced as the world’s first university department devoted solely to science communication. My background is that of a scientist: this year is the 40th anniversary of when I began my research on the behaviour and ecology of penguins – and I still publish in this area, albeit at a much reduced rate. For the last 32 years, I have also been a populariser of science, principally through the production of science documentaries and authoring science books intended for a lay audience (both children and adults). In 2001, I started my transition into the academic side of science communication and now focus my research in a number of areas, including the communication of science in the online environment through videos and websites.
My chief concern regarding the field of science communication is the gulf that exists between researchers and practitioners. This is exacerbated, in my view, by the theoretical underpinnings of much of the research that goes under the guise of science communication being largely unrelated to the practice of science communication. In part this reflects the history of our young discipline and the perspectives that accompany our diverse backgrounds, and, in part, it simply reflects that we are still young, still immature. It is my great hope that a theoretical framework for science communication will eventually emerge that is as relevant to its practice as it is for its research. Perhaps this meeting in Bellagio could be the beginnings of that?
Emily Dawson (UK)
For the last decade I have explored how people engage with science. Most of my work has focused on the construction of publics and ‘non’ publics for science and the role of privilege in such processes. A big question for me has been “how public is public engagement and does it matter?” For instance, my current projects include ‘Youth Equity & Science Technology and Engineering Mathematics’ (YESTEM), an international collaboration to develop equitable science learning opportunities that are sensitive to the lives of minoritized youth. I am also part of the team that developed the concept of science capital through longitudinal quantitative and qualitative research across the UK.
I am excited to develop ideas about how we understand publics, ‘science’ and how they overlap. My work draws on my background in Science and Technology Studies as well as Sociology of Education. I usually don’t care about papers that describe textual analyses of science in newspapers all that much (not that some aren’t interesting of course!) but prefer to read papers that apply emancipatory concepts from social justice to public science, such as papers that explore how natural history exhibits reinforce heteronormativity or papers that reimagine publics. As a lecturer in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London I teach several modules across the year groups. My current favourite is (perhaps predictably) my MSc module on science & social justice, but my most recent first year class also commented on how even “Introduction to science & society” had a feminist flavour when I taught it!
Marta Entradas (UK)
Marie Curie Fellow at LSE
I am a Marie Curie Fellow at the London School of Economics (LSE). After studying natural sciences and working for a few years as a practitioner at an European Marine Information Centre and the European Commission, I completed my PhD in science communication at UCL, where I was also teaching assistant for courses in science communication and science policy. As a trainer of Esconet Network for science communication, I’ve taught scientists from all over Europe how to communicate with non-specialist audiences. My main research focus lies on three aspects: Studies of scientists’ practices of science communication, motivations and public perceptions – my approach is to study scientific communities rather than generalist studies of scientists; 2) public involvement in science policy; this being a topic to consider at Bellagio, I would bring my experience as ‘bioenergy dialogue coordinator’ at the BBSRC (Biological and Bioenergy Research Council) in the UK, where I implemented a national public dialogue to explore public’s concerns, hopes and expectations towards bioenergy, and brought those views to the attention of policy makers and BBSRC policy advisors. Finally, 3) I focus on institutional public engagement. In particular, I am interested in cross-national, comparative studies.
I am currently the lead researcher for the international project ‘MORE-PE: Mobilisation of Resources for Public Engagement’, aimed developing a global database of public engagement practices and resources at research institutes (RIs) in Europe (Portugal, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany), North America (US), South America (Brazil), and parts of Asia (China, Japan and Taiwan). Institutional public engagement is an emerging topic in science communication research, with many new research questions arising. To mention a few, ‘what’, ‘for whom’, ‘why’, and ‘with what resources’ are institutions communicating; what relationships are established between the central communication function and the emerging communication structures at research institutes within them; what tension and conflicts do we foresee. I am interested in the broad institutional communication context in various countries, approaches and responses to demands of public engagement.*
Cary Funk (USA)
Director, Science and Society Research, Pew Research
I would love the opportunity to join this group for an outside-the-box discussion that will help bring a shift in thinking about how science communication is researched and practiced. I lead the research program on public views about science and society at The Pew Research Center. We are actively engaged in bringing data and analysis to bear that will shed new light on what are often longstanding issues in science communication and public understanding of science. It is hard to bring a step change to the research and practice of science communication without a clear understanding of how people think about science issues. I believe that I can contribute to that shared understanding. I have specialized in how people think about science issues since 2001, starting with issues in biotechnology. My training in social psychology gives me a solid foundation on the underpinnings of public attitudes and effective approaches for persuasion.
In shaping our research at the Pew Research Center, I integrate that understanding with a strong interest in bringing a fresh approach to the research –one that can add new insight into public views and understanding about science topics. In fact, we have a new research project in the works that looks at the science news and information landscape from the public lens. I expect this project to be completed before the November meeting and to be of strong interest to the group. Much of the Pew Research Center work on science, to date, has been focused on the U.S. public but many of the issues we address are relevant elsewhere; we also have a strong international research program and we are eager to better understand how these topics play out across borders.
Toss Gascoigne (Australia)
Director, Toss Gascoigne and Associates
My entrance to science communication 25 years ago was as the editor and manager of scientific papers for a research organisation. It became apparent that the organisation needed to focus more on explaining what it did and why this was important to people who used and funded its research, so the job changed: communication to general and targeted audiences.
I helped form a network for science communicators in Australia. Communicators were isolated – there little opportunity for discussing ideas in this emerging field – and ASC provided a place where communicators could meet, discuss ideas and plan events. Later I became director of a lobby group for science, where the task was to make the case for investing in science to politicians, bureaucrats and the public.
During this 25 year period I conceived and ran (with Jenni Metcalfe) about 1500 workshops for scientists, training them to work with journalists, plan communication or present their work to live audiences.
So what are the large unanswered questions in science communication we might consider at Bellagio? One is finding the best way to get people to support science or act on scientific advice, a subject with many questions and few answers. The deficit model has been discredited but still governs a substantial part of the activities of practitioners. Is there a better way, that works in practice and can be scaled-up?
A second is evaluation (do our activities make a difference? How do we know?) and a third is defining just what science an ordinary citizen needs to know. Is it a set of facts, or some understanding of the scientific method, or a combination? And if it is facts, which facts? This is an important question because a proper answer will help shape the activities of practitioners.
Alexander Gerber (Germany)
Chair of Science Communication at Rhine-Waal University (Germany) and Research Director at the Institute for Science an Innovation Communication
Both the raison d’être of our symposium and my own expectations of Bellagio are about the need to overcome the double-disconnect in scicomm research: (a) the mutual ignorance of scholars and practitioners to at least consider each other’s work seriously, possibly apply it, and ideally even collaborate; (b) moving from a multi-disciplinary to an interdisciplinary field of research by integrating existing theories and results, and investigating the bigger systemic picture from different disciplinary perspectives. Already in my first conference session on “Evidence-based Science Communication”, back in 2015, we were aware of the limitations if now risks of postulating yet another deficit, this time a presumed lack of ‘evidence’ in what the NAS Report (Leshner/Scheufele 2017) called a more “effective” form of science communication. This is even more topical since recent socio-political developments have raised existential questions for our research field, with Trumpism and Brexit to mention just two. Thus we need to reconsider the responsibilities of our scholarly community. The next step on our way to mature us as a ‘discipline’, is a much more active contribution to scicomm practice and scicomm policies. This will require us to rethink our insufficient mechanisms of knowledge-transfer.
As an information scientist by training, I am truly grateful that I was able to experience and experiment with PCST in practice for about 15 years, while gradually moving into scholarship and now investigating the issues at stake with a clearly applied research focus. Our four fields of research are Upstream Engagement, Open Science, STEM Education, and Evaluation & Research Methods. In Europe’s only 3-year Science Communication degree programme, we are trying to train this ‘third generation’ of PCST professionals to act as change agents for a more ‘evidence-based’ practice, and a more practice -based scholarship. Research and teaching are intertwined in our programme by research-led teaching.
Marina Joubert (South Africa)
Researcher, Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology, Stellenbosch University
After studying natural science and then journalism, working at a research funding agency and then starting my own consultancy, I am now a science communication researcher at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. This career path made me keenly aware that effective science communication requires partnerships between natural and social sciences, bridges between theory and practice and collaboration between the developed and developing world.
I’m part of a small research group in South Africa that was formed in 2014 when South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology allocated a research chair in science communication to Stellenbosch University – the first in South Africa and on the continent. As a research group we are, of course, interested in science communication issues and challenges related to the local context, but we also have a global outlook and actively pursue international collaboration in our work.
In my own research, I focus on the role that scientist themselves play at the interface between science and society. In particular, I’m interested in what we can learn from how and why publicly visible scientists engage public and policy audiences.
Our other focus is capacity building in science communication – for both practitioners and researchers – across Africa. To stimulate research interest and activity, we have therefore created an option for master’s students in science and technology studies to specialise in public science engagement, and we actively recruit top students to our doctoral programme. Our 12-week online science communication course is popular amongst people already working in public science environment. Over the past three years, 190 students from across the African continent have enrolled for this course, with a 94% pass rate and an average score of 75%. We also promote networking and information sharing via our “Science Communication Africa” Facebook group that now has close to 1 500 members.
Joan Leach (Australia)
Director, Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, Australian National University
I am Director of the Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) and the Australian National University (ANU). I’ve taught and researched in science communication, History and Philosophy of Science, and Rhetoric of Science programs on 3 continents and I am very keen to discuss the future iterations of science communication as the current one seems a bit tired. I’m just finishing a major ARC-funded project on science communication and globalisation since the 1960s; it challenges the near-obsession with ‘the national’ as the unit of analysis in science communication.
I argue that while national programs have determined local funding patterns and policy for science communication practice in the disciplinary sense, the other face of Janus is that science communication in a global sense has aided and abetted the rise of post-war Big Science and has provided a continued raison d’être for a vision of science as a cosmopolitan practice with an universaliist epistemology. I think science communication is a stellar field in which to collaborate so I enjoy my work with philosophers, ethicists, quantum physicists, infectious disease researchers, re-wilding experts, and other science communicators.
At CPAS, I’m the current caretaker of one of the oldest science communication and engagement training and outreach courses in the world which has been under continuous development for 33 years. We’re working to put our students (postgraduate coursework and PhD) in deeper conversation with our international partners; I envision science communication only growing over the next generation with new methods, new foci. Finally, I’m embarking on a new research project called “The Difficult Conversation” which explores the kinds of conversations that need to happen in our current context where consensus is illusive, rhetorical standards of evidence differ, and even codes of civility have radically shifted. I’m thrilled to come to Bellagio to see old friends and make new ones—the thought will keep me going through many a meeting in the coming months.
Bruce Lewenstein (USA)
Professor of Science Communication, Cornell University
I started as a science journalist before getting a PhD in History & Sociology of Science, studying the history of public understanding of science. If a scientist knows everything, but only about a very narrow thing; and a journalist knows nothing, but about everything – as a researcher, I’m still a journalist.
In almost 35 years in this field, I’ve studied the history of public communication of science and technology, public opinion about science and technology, the development of science museum exhibits, evaluation of science outreach, science/art collaborations, citizen science, and informal science education. I’ve done a lot of work in developing countries, helping engage a broader community in the scholarly field of PCST. I also do a lot of work with scientists (especially graduate students) helping them learn how to do and think about PCST.
I believe deeply that communication is the essence of science (without communication, nothing can become reliable knowledge). But science communication is not a linear process from lab to journal to media; rather, it is a multi-faceted, multi-directional process in which researchers learn from publics who learn from researchers who learn from publics who…. I hope to bring that overview and perspective to helping make the connections across our many interests and expertises. One more thing: I am in awe at the growth of our field, from a handful of people in the early 1980s to a vibrant, diverse, and engaged international community today.
Xuan Liu (China)
Associate Professor, Innovative Environment Research Institute, National Academy of Innovation Strategy
I am associate professor in National Academy of Innovation Strategy (NAIS), CAST. I have a complex education background with Computer Science for BA degree, Media & Communication for MA degree and Ph.D. degree in Management Science and Engineering from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). During my doctorate study, I joined the Social Psychology Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) as a visiting student from 2008 to 2009 with a scholarship grant by the Ministry of Education. In 2010, I became a researcher at the China Institute for Science Popularization and joined the research team, which conducts the National Civic Scientific Literacy survey in China every 5 years from 1991. In 2016, I left the survey team in CRISP and joined NAIS to direct the research projects in the Science Culture field. My research interest is mostly on the study of public understanding of science and science culture, especially from a comparison perspective across continents. I was elected as a PCST scientific committee member in the under-35 years category in 2014.
NAIS is a research unit directly under China Association for Science and Technology, CAST. NAIS is a national-level scientific and technological think tank and its main field of research includes science and technology policy and development strategy, innovation culture, and national survey on the conditions of scientific and technological professionals in China. We are very active in international collaboration and exchange work between NAIS and international partners. NAIS, LSE as well as Tsinghua University jointly founded an international research center on Science Culture and Innovative Culture in 2017, and I am the contact and coordinator of this collaboration project. We are now conducting a series of research projects along with international colleagues in the science culture and science and society field. This year we are preparing a New international journal Cultures of Science (in English), which is about to publish in early 2018. As the manager of the editing team, I would like to welcome all of you to contribute your ideas and research results to the first international journal in this field, which is launched in China.
Luisa Massarani (Brazil)
Researcher, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz
I am a Brazilian science communicator. I started my career as a science journalist working in a science magazine. Then, I was invited for being the editor of a magazine for children. I start having too many questions about what science communication is, for what, for who, what it does actually means… Which led me to follow a master degree, then a PhD. The reasoning has been how research can help the practice of science communication – and vice versa.
In the present, I work in a website (SciDev.Net, www.scidev.net) and in hands on science museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In the later I do practical things (exhibitions, books, etc), research and training (scientists and journalists, as well as master and PhD students – actually, we just created a new master in sci comm).
I am also the director of RedPOP, the network for sci comm for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Niels Mejlgaard (Denmark)
Inspired especially by Alan Irwin’s work, I did my thesis on the notion of ‘scientific citizenship’. With a background in political science and an emerging interest in STS, science communication, and public engagement, it was intriguing to explore patterns of perceived rights / duties, efficacy, competence, and participation in relation to citizens’ engagement with science and controversial technologies.
I have remained interested in the interfaces of science and society, and have worked with projects targeting both the macro-level (such as MASIS which aimed to compare the role and responsibilities of science across 38 European countries) and the micro-level (specifically the development of indicators to capture citizen engagement within the context of the 2005 and 2010 Eurobarometers).
Recently, my research activities have been related mainly to the concept of ‘responsible research and innovation’. I am director of the Danish Center for Studies in Research and Research Policy at Aarhus University, an interdisciplinary environment dedicated to research evaluation and research policy analyses. In that capacity, I have led a number of studies on implementation and impact of research policy for public authorities, particularly in Denmark and the Nordic countries. During the PCST Bellagio meeting, I would be very interested in learning about not only the intrinsic values of science communication and engagement, but also the broader social, democratic, and economic impacts of communication and engagement practice.
Felicity Melor (UK)
Senior Lecturer, Science Communication Unit, Imperial College
For the last sixteen years I have led the MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London. Our programme aims to balance professional media training with rigorous critical analysis. Each year we turn out over fifty graduates who benefit from, and have helped bring about, a significant expansion in science communication over the last two decades. However, the space for critical science communication seems as slim as ever, squeezed on one side by boosterism and on the other by nihilistic denialism.
Our challenge, as I see it, both as a society and as scholars, is how to open up the space between. Over the years, my research has focussed on the ways in which public science serves ideological ends, the role of narrative in this process, and the extent to which both ideology and narrative are implicit within science itself. Although I have undertaken quantitative research – I carried out the content analysis for the BBC Trust’s 2011 review of the BBC’s coverage of science – I firmly believe that qualitative analysis offers important insights for science communication studies.
My research projects have included looking at how scientists’ promotion of the asteroid impact threat was shaped by a narrative imperative; patterns of systematic non-reporting in the news coverage of science; the narrative structure of contemporary cosmology; and the importance of silence in the communication of science. The Silences of Science project was prompted by a growing feeling that there is too much science communication – too much puff that ultimately undermines the credibility of science. Often I wish scientists would just shut up! Yet at the same time, we urgently need public discourse to be rooted in expert knowledge and for scientists to serve the public interest. I hope that this conference can help us find ways to reconcile these potentially conflicting impulses.
Jenni Metcalfe (Australia)
Director Econnect Communication; PhD Candidate Australian National University
I’m one of those people who straddle, sometimes uncomfortably, the divide between science communication practice and research. Throughout my 28-year career as a science communication practitioner (22 years running my own science communication consultancy), I’ve always seen the value of using research evidence to inform my practice. As such, I’ve used a variety of tools to find out the perceptions, concerns and needs of target groups, and to design and evaluate novel communication strategies.
The project I’m most proud of is the Australian climate champion network of farmers. Over six years we supported farmers to communicate with their peers about climate science and to interact with climate scientists about the research they wanted and how they wanted it communicated. Life-long relationships formed between these farmers and the scientists they interacted with. Together they generated new ideas and knowledge and genuinely made a difference to how climate science is done and communicated.
I’m excited by the potential of Bellagio to deliver a step change in science communication worldwide. We live in a world where anti-science has traction and yet we have global problems that need scientists to be part of the team that works to solve them. For science communication to help this process it needs to change. At Bellagio we need to work together to find ways to:
- Get science communication practitioners and researchers working more closely together on global issues
- Formulate global research projects that generate the knowledge needed by practitioners to drive policy and action change
- Theoretically frame science communication so it reflects and embraces a breadth of disciplinary approaches
Luz Helena Oviedo (Colombia)
Science communication practitioner, Institute of Biological Research Alexander von Humboldt.
How communication could contribute to biodiversity conservation? This is the question that has led my professional practice during the last years. My background in Ecology and masters in Communication has given me the tools to work with scientists, communicators and local communities in the research and decision making interface. I currently work at the Communications Office in the National Biodiversity Institute in Colombia where we develop communications strategies for different publics, specially non-scientists. Some of the strategies are museum exhibits, children storybooks, educational visits and integration of a communications component into scientific research projects.
My contributions are related to communication of biodiversity issues, science integration into a social context (apropiación social de la ciencia) and how to use communication to link to emotions. My perspective is built from the experience in a country with a complex reality where science and other knowledge systems could improve people’s welfare.
I would like to add to the conversation strategies on how we as science communicators could work with researchers and practitioners in other field of knowledge such as biology conservationists, educators and entrepreneurs.
Michelle Riedlinger (Canada)
Lecturer and researcher, Communication Department, University of the Fraser Valley
I’m excited by the opportunity to work on this project because I recognise that the current social, political and technological environments we work in require a shift in thinking related to science communication theory and practice. My career spans the practical and theoretical sides of science communication. I am currently an Associate Professor at the University of the Fraser Valley, British Columbia and my research focuses on the communication of environmental science and genres of risk assessment. Before coming to Canada in 2010, I worked in Australia as a science communication professional for over 15 years. I worked for ten years with the environmental science communication consultancy, Econnect Communication on projects focussed on climate variability, dryland salinity, catchment management, and river health. This professional experience drew my attention to public participation in science in non-traditional settings, street science, and open science projects.
While working in Australia, I was the Regional Coordinator for the Australian Science Communicators (ASC) Association for eight years. I have been the Secretary for the Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) Global Network since 2014 and I was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada (SWCC).
I’m hoping that we use some of our time our time at the Bellagio Centre to explore support mechanisms for the boundary communication practices of environmental science and community collaborations—particular collaborations focused on addressing strategic ignorance and undone science. I see many opportunities and challenges associated with the independent science communication efforts occurring nationally that may benefit from greater international collaboration, including advocating for scientists’ freedom to speak. Greater international collaboration could be achieved through stronger relationships between global and national professional societies and I look forward to exploring those opportunities during the workshop.
Martin Storksdieck (USA)
Director and Professor, Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning, Oregon State University
My first foray into science communication occurred when I was running for city council at the age of 19. I gave a public talk on the dangers of dioxins. Showering the small audience with selected facts for about an hour, I only accomplished to bore the converted by addressing questions in great detail and breadth no one in the room really had. Oh well. My second attempt 13 years later, armed with two graduate degrees (biology and public policy), and experience working for an international environmental nonprofit was more satisfying.
I created immersive multimedia planetarium shows on climate change and solar power. I learned about storytelling, the power of emotion, and much more. But most importantly, I realized that there was scholarship behind every small task I took on which intrigued me and made me dig around. Forward another 10 years and I am now a free-choice learning researcher equipped with a PhD in education grappling with questions of how people deal with controversial topics such as evolution in museums, or how they respond to current science being presented in such settings. I used the toolbox of the informal learning and education to describe what was going on until I met Dietram Scheufele at AAAS, and a new vocabulary and a new field of scholarship opened up for me.
Ten years have past since and I consider myself now a bridge person between informal science education and science communication, research and practice, science and society. I run a research center at Oregon State University where we study lifelong STEM learning. I am also a Co-PI for a resource center that supports the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program at the US National Science Foundation. We are focused on the intersection of SciComm and informal STEM learning, and research and practice. I look forward to spirited discussions around these topics.
Brian Trench (Ireland)
President, PCST Network
I have been observing patterns and trends in science communication research and practice over many years. More recently, in updating, with co-editor Massimiano Bucchi, the Routledge Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology and compiling the four-volume anthology of writings on science communication, Public Communication of Science, I have had reason to reflect further on developments and prospects in our field. I look forward to the opportunity to explore the past, present and future of our field in-depth, and with colleagues who share this interest.
In research, we can see new paradigms emerging, and it will be potentially defining for the field how we accommodate these. Diversification is also evident in practice, as science communication immerses itself culturally and spreads globally. Despite this plurality, science communication is widely perceived from outside as very largely one-dimensional, didactic or promotional. We need to consider how and whether those within science communication are contributing to that perception or can change it.
Collaborations and interactions between theory and practice have been a by-word of PCST conferences over nearly thirty years. Reflective practitioners and practice-oriented researchers have explored and strengthened that relationship over even longer. But how theory and practice connect and the relationship is maintained needs constant review. Now retired from day-to-day university teaching I am reflecting on lessons learned over 25 years and I am working on theory-based guidelines for science communication practice and policy. I hope to have critical engagement around these ideas at the Bellagio conference.
Maarten van der Sanden (The Netherlands)
Assoc. Professor, Science Education & Communication, Delft University of Technology
I’m an associate professor of Science Communication at the Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. I lead the Science Communication research and education (minor/master) program of the department of Science Education & Communication. This program starts from a business-to-business point of view on science communication and focuses on how science communication enables and criticises collaborative networks of scientists, engineers, business developers and policy makers, from the early stages of scientific and technological development till the very implementation of innovative services and products in society. Hence, key words are: technology, reflective society, innovation, collaboration, adaptive professional development, decision-making behaviour and social design.
Areas of interest we focus on: socio-technical transitions in the domains of smart energy concepts, e-health, blockchain (ICT) and robotics. Since the department combines experts and students in both science education and communication, we also seek for theoretical and practical synergy in the realm of innovation for education (primary – academic) and (social) learning within innovation.
I studied biology (experimental zoology / biology & society) and I hold a doctorate in medical sciences, concerning the public communication on predictive DNA-diagnostics. I started doing this PhD-research while I was head of the corporate science communication department of the Delft University. I was, and still am, fascinated by the gap between theory and practice of science communication, and started thinking about specific processes and tools to fill this gap. Nowadays I specialize in the social design of distributed science communication processes and its supporting tools for scientists, engineers, business developers, policy makers and science communication professionals. Within the Delft C-Lab, students, professionals and staff work together and mostly apply design-based research. This leads to theoretical insights, adaptive practical solutions and adaptive professionals. I look forward to discover and discuss the possible tensions between various science communication insights, interests and points of view. Based on these insights I may contribute to the discussions from what we discovered in our research on collaboration.