Background The PCST conferences have always combined critical analysis and theoretical reflection in science communication with description and evaluation of PCST practices and projects. It is a distinguishing characteristic of the conferences and of the PCST network that they straddle theory and practice, analysts and practitioners. A new book, Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology that will be published by Routledge in April-May 2008, includes contributions from several members of the PCST scientific committee, promoting the relationship between theory and practice. The volume considers science communication issues, for example, in films with science content, in the role scientists play as public experts, in the public actions of environmental NGOs, in health communication campaigns, in communicating genetics, in science museums and in science journalism, among other topic areas. It is the first such publication to present a state-of-the-art view of science communication.

Objective The theory/practice relationship has tended to remain implicit and this panel session aims to make it explicit through reflection on and responses to Handbook’s critical and theoretical perspectives on various issues in public communication of science and technology. While the book is proposed primarily as a resource for studies of science communication, it also has much to say to various aspects of science communication practice. The panel will present answers to the session question, What can science communication theory say to practice? In particular, the panellists will reflect on what considerations of theory may indicate about the changing conditions of science and society and thus the emerging challenges and opportunities for science communication. In this way, the panel session connects most with the conference theme, Emerging Issues in Science and Society.

Methods The panel members will include the co-editors and a contributor of a chapter, along with someone who was not a contributor, and who is mainly based in science communication practice. The brief (max. 10-minute) interventions of the panel members and the facilitation of the session will be aimed at stimulating participation by those who attend, and at encouraging mutual respect for those who ‘do’ theory with an eye to practice and those who ‘do’ practice with awareness of theory.

Participants Massimiano Bucchi (Italy), professor of sociology of science at Trento University, co-editor of Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology, author of Science and the Media and Introduction to Social Studies of Science, and of a chapter in the handbook on theories of science communication

Email: massimiano.bucchi@unitn.it Prof Bucchi’s participation is confirmed

Alan Irwin (Denmark), dean of research at Copenhagen Business School, author of Citizen Science and Science, Social Theory and Public Knowledge, and of a chapter in the handbook on risk communication
Email: ai.research@cbs.dk
Prof Irwin’s participation is confirmed

Marina Joubert (South Africa), science communication advocate and consultant with more than 15 years experience, founder of South Africa's first dedicated science communication consultancy, Southern Science, and member of the scientific committee of the PCST Network Email: marina@southernscience.co.za

Ms Joubert’s participation is confirmed. (If Ms Joubert cannot participate, her place will be taken by another woman who is also mainly active in science communication practice)

Brian Trench (Ireland), former science journalist and senior lecturer in science communication, Dublin City University, co-editor of Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology and author of a chapter in the book on Internet communication in and about science. Mr Trench will be facilitator of the panel discussion.

Email: brian.trench@dcu.ie

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 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

What can science communication theory say to practice?

Brian Trench   Dublin City University

Alan Irwin   Copenhagen Business School

Massimiano Bucchi   Trento University

Marina Joubert   Southern Science

Background The PCST conferences have always combined critical analysis and theoretical reflection in science communication with description and evaluation of PCST practices and projects. It is a distinguishing characteristic of the conferences and of the PCST network that they straddle theory and practice, analysts and practitioners. A new book, Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology that will be published by Routledge in April-May 2008, includes contributions from several members of the PCST scientific committee, promoting the relationship between theory and practice. The volume considers science communication issues, for example, in films with science content, in the role scientists play as public experts, in the public actions of environmental NGOs, in health communication campaigns, in communicating genetics, in science museums and in science journalism, among other topic areas. It is the first such publication to present a state-of-the-art view of science communication.

Objective The theory/practice relationship has tended to remain implicit and this panel session aims to make it explicit through reflection on and responses to Handbook’s critical and theoretical perspectives on various issues in public communication of science and technology. While the book is proposed primarily as a resource for studies of science communication, it also has much to say to various aspects of science communication practice. The panel will present answers to the session question, What can science communication theory say to practice? In particular, the panellists will reflect on what considerations of theory may indicate about the changing conditions of science and society and thus the emerging challenges and opportunities for science communication. In this way, the panel session connects most with the conference theme, Emerging Issues in Science and Society.

Methods The panel members will include the co-editors and a contributor of a chapter, along with someone who was not a contributor, and who is mainly based in science communication practice. The brief (max. 10-minute) interventions of the panel members and the facilitation of the session will be aimed at stimulating participation by those who attend, and at encouraging mutual respect for those who ‘do’ theory with an eye to practice and those who ‘do’ practice with awareness of theory.

Participants Massimiano Bucchi (Italy), professor of sociology of science at Trento University, co-editor of Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology, author of Science and the Media and Introduction to Social Studies of Science, and of a chapter in the handbook on theories of science communication

Email: massimiano.bucchi@unitn.it Prof Bucchi’s participation is confirmed

Alan Irwin (Denmark), dean of research at Copenhagen Business School, author of Citizen Science and Science, Social Theory and Public Knowledge, and of a chapter in the handbook on risk communication
Email: ai.research@cbs.dk
Prof Irwin’s participation is confirmed

Marina Joubert (South Africa), science communication advocate and consultant with more than 15 years experience, founder of South Africa's first dedicated science communication consultancy, Southern Science, and member of the scientific committee of the PCST Network Email: marina@southernscience.co.za

Ms Joubert’s participation is confirmed. (If Ms Joubert cannot participate, her place will be taken by another woman who is also mainly active in science communication practice)

Brian Trench (Ireland), former science journalist and senior lecturer in science communication, Dublin City University, co-editor of Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology and author of a chapter in the book on Internet communication in and about science. Mr Trench will be facilitator of the panel discussion.

Email: brian.trench@dcu.ie

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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