PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Finding common language

Nicholas Hillier   British Association for the Advancement of Science

Fiona Barbagallo   British Association for the Advancement of Science (former member)

Issues that involve science are increasingly high on the public agenda and there is a willingness to involve the public early in the debate. This early involvement will help scientists and decision makers to understand and respond to public views, and allow members of the public to appreciate that they can influence the progress of science and technology democratically.

But how early can members of the public become engaged in emerging science and technology? Can members of the public express ‘informed' views and opinions before interacting with applications of science?

The BA and the Office of Science and Technology’s Foresight Programme piloted an approach to address these questions using an area of research called Cognitive Systems.

The project provided opportunities for members of the public, scientists and science communicators to participate in structured deliberative discussions exploring the area of cognitive systems and allowing them to identify language, stories and frames of reference that would help stimulate mature public discussions about emerging scientific research.

[PDF 48.12 kB]Download the full paper (PDF 48.12 kB)