There is absence of a conceptual and theoretical foundation towards the formulation of an epistemological understanding of PUS in South Africa. Such a foundation is required as a base to intellectually steer rigorous academic research within the Universities. Once such an understanding is formulated it could assist in the research process and the formulation of questiounaires when doing surveys amongst the publics. To successfully develop such an epistemological understanding we need to critically evaluate the interaction between the policy (vision and mission) of governmental bodies involved with the promotion of PUS and the process (implementation) and dissemination of survey results by the same bodies. We need to differentiate, as part of this evaluation, between the intellectual ‘understanding’ of science by the publics and the ‘knowledge’ of science impaired by the scientists. At the same time the ‘attitude’ of the publics towards science is as important to consider as the ‘understanding’ of science by the same publics. The most difficult task, however, will be to bridge the gap created by an epistemological divide between research paradigms created by government (macro perspectives) and the micro narratives embedded within the South African publics (the indigenous knowledge systems). This divide needs to be breached to empower researchers to provide space for the still ‘unknown’ factor of the publics’ knowledge systems. These knowledge systems that exist traditionally within communities helped them to reach and sustain a certain level of development over centuries and still play a crucial role in the societies.

The presentation will be based on the intellectual exploration of these ideas by the authors during a collaborative research project between two countries- India and South Africa as well as between ‘two cultures’- science and the arts.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

An epistem ological understanding of PUS

Hester du Plessis   Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), University of Johannesburg (U J), South Africa

Gauhar Raza   National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS), CSlR, India.

There is absence of a conceptual and theoretical foundation towards the formulation of an epistemological understanding of PUS in South Africa. Such a foundation is required as a base to intellectually steer rigorous academic research within the Universities. Once such an understanding is formulated it could assist in the research process and the formulation of questiounaires when doing surveys amongst the publics. To successfully develop such an epistemological understanding we need to critically evaluate the interaction between the policy (vision and mission) of governmental bodies involved with the promotion of PUS and the process (implementation) and dissemination of survey results by the same bodies. We need to differentiate, as part of this evaluation, between the intellectual ‘understanding’ of science by the publics and the ‘knowledge’ of science impaired by the scientists. At the same time the ‘attitude’ of the publics towards science is as important to consider as the ‘understanding’ of science by the same publics. The most difficult task, however, will be to bridge the gap created by an epistemological divide between research paradigms created by government (macro perspectives) and the micro narratives embedded within the South African publics (the indigenous knowledge systems). This divide needs to be breached to empower researchers to provide space for the still ‘unknown’ factor of the publics’ knowledge systems. These knowledge systems that exist traditionally within communities helped them to reach and sustain a certain level of development over centuries and still play a crucial role in the societies.

The presentation will be based on the intellectual exploration of these ideas by the authors during a collaborative research project between two countries- India and South Africa as well as between ‘two cultures’- science and the arts.

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

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