The Biosense platform was created to promote mediation between scientists and laypeople in order to achieve common goals. Since its inception, the platform’s development has come across with a number of challenges directly related to the diversity of interests, agendas and varying levels of organization of both scientists and citizen groups.
 
The scientists’ perspectives, who aim at a greater interaction with non-specialist citizens, range from: 1) finding more effective ways of communicating their research on specific subjects to broader audiences, as is the case with laboratory animal science or with publics acceptance of human enhancement research and technologies; to 2) trying to develop public awareness of problems they identify as being fundamental public health issues, such as cancer and hemochromatosis; and to 3) assess the perceptions and acceptance that recent developments in science and technology have in different social arenas, which is crucial in the case of human enhancement. 
 
The citizens’ outlook on this interaction span from: 1) gaining access to state of the art information and clinical procedures on such diverse illness-related topics like cancer or hemochromatosis; to 2) building science-based forms of participation in the public sphere that stemmed from broader, new and old, social movements’ political agendas that predate the interaction-mediation initiative of the Biosense platform.
 
In this paper we discuss the major challenges faced in the process of building this science shop-inspired platform. These issues concern the need to find a common baseline for the mediation practice whilst maintaining the context-sensitive approach to each of the science communication and integration projects that are being dealt with. This approach has proved an integral part of the initiative’s success.
 
The issue of who has the initiative of seeking the interaction-mediation processes is also critically taken into account, since in most of the projects hosted by the platform, the interaction processes were driven by a need of the scientists for a greater involvement with the public. We focus on the role of the actors involved, which is often complex and apparently contradictory, and usually grounded in the cultural and historical course of each specific citizen group. We also consider the rooted practices of the manifold research environments involved in this study.
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PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Strategies for science communication and participation in different socio-technical networks
Experiences in the Portuguese context

E. Basto   IBMC - Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular, Universidade do Porto, Porto

J. Borlido Santos   IBMC - Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular, Universidade do Porto, Porto

S. Martins   IBMC - Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular, Universidade do Porto, Porto

J. A. Nunes   Center for Social Studies (CES), Universidade de Coimbra, Colégio de S. Jerónimo, Coimbra, Portugal

The Biosense platform was created to promote mediation between scientists and laypeople in order to achieve common goals. Since its inception, the platform’s development has come across with a number of challenges directly related to the diversity of interests, agendas and varying levels of organization of both scientists and citizen groups.
 
The scientists’ perspectives, who aim at a greater interaction with non-specialist citizens, range from: 1) finding more effective ways of communicating their research on specific subjects to broader audiences, as is the case with laboratory animal science or with publics acceptance of human enhancement research and technologies; to 2) trying to develop public awareness of problems they identify as being fundamental public health issues, such as cancer and hemochromatosis; and to 3) assess the perceptions and acceptance that recent developments in science and technology have in different social arenas, which is crucial in the case of human enhancement. 
 
The citizens’ outlook on this interaction span from: 1) gaining access to state of the art information and clinical procedures on such diverse illness-related topics like cancer or hemochromatosis; to 2) building science-based forms of participation in the public sphere that stemmed from broader, new and old, social movements’ political agendas that predate the interaction-mediation initiative of the Biosense platform.
 
In this paper we discuss the major challenges faced in the process of building this science shop-inspired platform. These issues concern the need to find a common baseline for the mediation practice whilst maintaining the context-sensitive approach to each of the science communication and integration projects that are being dealt with. This approach has proved an integral part of the initiative’s success.
 
The issue of who has the initiative of seeking the interaction-mediation processes is also critically taken into account, since in most of the projects hosted by the platform, the interaction processes were driven by a need of the scientists for a greater involvement with the public. We focus on the role of the actors involved, which is often complex and apparently contradictory, and usually grounded in the cultural and historical course of each specific citizen group. We also consider the rooted practices of the manifold research environments involved in this study.

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

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