Landcare is an internationally important Australian movement, aimed at addressing natural resource degradation through local action. The movement has a strong emphasis on community campaigning, but often poor internal communications — despite a proliferation of communication channels and a flood of information.
 
Attempts to remedy the problem so far have usually involved adding to the quantity of landcare information in circulation, not improving its quality. Communication channels have become clogged with redundant material, to the extent that information overload has become a significant problem for many landcare participants.
 
A major cause of the problem is that most communication channels are built around programs run by State and Federal Government bureaucracies. As such they have inherited the public service's self-censoring communication traditions. Usually 'communication' in landcare is a thinly disguised euphemism for 'propaganda'. Often it seems that everyone is talking, but no-one is listening.
 
In the interests of all stakeholders (community, government and researchers) there is now a pressing need for independent voices in landcare, and for professional, critical communication channels. There are also important lessons to be learnt for communicating sustainability messages more widely.
 
The presenter believes that for science communication to be credible and to succeed, it must go beyond being a 'propaganda' or 'community education' exercise. In the end — as with any good Journalism — at least some science communication should be answerable to its audience, not just to its sponsors. But the presenter also knows only too well how hard this is to achieve in practice.
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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Peddling landcare
The need for independent voices

David Mussared  

Landcare is an internationally important Australian movement, aimed at addressing natural resource degradation through local action. The movement has a strong emphasis on community campaigning, but often poor internal communications — despite a proliferation of communication channels and a flood of information.
 
Attempts to remedy the problem so far have usually involved adding to the quantity of landcare information in circulation, not improving its quality. Communication channels have become clogged with redundant material, to the extent that information overload has become a significant problem for many landcare participants.
 
A major cause of the problem is that most communication channels are built around programs run by State and Federal Government bureaucracies. As such they have inherited the public service's self-censoring communication traditions. Usually 'communication' in landcare is a thinly disguised euphemism for 'propaganda'. Often it seems that everyone is talking, but no-one is listening.
 
In the interests of all stakeholders (community, government and researchers) there is now a pressing need for independent voices in landcare, and for professional, critical communication channels. There are also important lessons to be learnt for communicating sustainability messages more widely.
 
The presenter believes that for science communication to be credible and to succeed, it must go beyond being a 'propaganda' or 'community education' exercise. In the end — as with any good Journalism — at least some science communication should be answerable to its audience, not just to its sponsors. But the presenter also knows only too well how hard this is to achieve in practice.

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

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