Science cafés offer a place for discussion and debate for all those who are interested in science and society issues. But, can science cafés be a place for informal dialogue? How can they contribute to the scientific citizens that are wanted in the two-way dialogue of the upstream public engagement ideas? In the Netherlands, in 2010, a series of five science cafés meetings were organised around the issue of nanotechnology. Aims were to inform people about nanotechnology, and, to contribute to the public debate about nanotechnology.

In a connected research study, two groups (science café participants and a group of people interested in science and technology who did not visit the science café meetings which we called non-participants) were asked to give their opinions, amongst others, about citizen’s participation in nanotechnology and their own levels of participation in nanotechnology, as well as their levels of participation in societal and political issues. Also, their perceptions of risks and benefits of nanotechnology were polled (not presented here). In addition to the quantitative data, the science café meetings were recorded and transcribed. In this paper, we present both qualitative data and quantitative data that focus on the actual processes of interaction between both speakers and science café participants, as well as the way science café participants and non-participants feel enabled to participate in nanotechnology issues and the way they say they actually behave in the nanotechnology debate.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Can science cafés contribute to scientific citizens?
The nanotrail project as a case

Anne Dijkstra   University of Twente, Science Communication

Science cafés offer a place for discussion and debate for all those who are interested in science and society issues. But, can science cafés be a place for informal dialogue? How can they contribute to the scientific citizens that are wanted in the two-way dialogue of the upstream public engagement ideas? In the Netherlands, in 2010, a series of five science cafés meetings were organised around the issue of nanotechnology. Aims were to inform people about nanotechnology, and, to contribute to the public debate about nanotechnology.

In a connected research study, two groups (science café participants and a group of people interested in science and technology who did not visit the science café meetings which we called non-participants) were asked to give their opinions, amongst others, about citizen’s participation in nanotechnology and their own levels of participation in nanotechnology, as well as their levels of participation in societal and political issues. Also, their perceptions of risks and benefits of nanotechnology were polled (not presented here). In addition to the quantitative data, the science café meetings were recorded and transcribed. In this paper, we present both qualitative data and quantitative data that focus on the actual processes of interaction between both speakers and science café participants, as well as the way science café participants and non-participants feel enabled to participate in nanotechnology issues and the way they say they actually behave in the nanotechnology debate.

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

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