Currently, Science Communication (SC) professionals who are working in the context of science and technology development, have various jobs at universities, government agencies, NGOs and industry. Their positions have changed in recent years, due to developments in science and technology and to social trends. Increasingly, SC practitioners play a role as mediator in participatory processes, or facilitator of stakeholder meetings. These roles require decisions in difficult to manage processes and in situations that are hard to overlook. A decision support system would be able to help them. In this paper we describe the changing role of SC practitioners and the context in which they make decisions. Then we argue which requirements decision support systems must meet in order to support SC practitioners in their decision making processes. Our paper is based on a literature review on professionalization and in-depth interviews with science communication professionals. Our main conclusion is that a decision support system should not only support the SC practitioner‟s instrumental decisions, but should also support him in ethical issues. Decision support systems must challenge the professional to reflect on his tasks, the uncertainties involved, and on his knowledge, skills and personal identity. All of these factors are of importance for the SC practitioner to make informed choices and to professionalize. 

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

New practices in science communication
Roles of professionals in science and technology development

Caroline Wehrmann   Delft University of Technology The Netherlands

Anne Dijkstra   University of Twente The Netherlands

Currently, Science Communication (SC) professionals who are working in the context of science and technology development, have various jobs at universities, government agencies, NGOs and industry. Their positions have changed in recent years, due to developments in science and technology and to social trends. Increasingly, SC practitioners play a role as mediator in participatory processes, or facilitator of stakeholder meetings. These roles require decisions in difficult to manage processes and in situations that are hard to overlook. A decision support system would be able to help them. In this paper we describe the changing role of SC practitioners and the context in which they make decisions. Then we argue which requirements decision support systems must meet in order to support SC practitioners in their decision making processes. Our paper is based on a literature review on professionalization and in-depth interviews with science communication professionals. Our main conclusion is that a decision support system should not only support the SC practitioner‟s instrumental decisions, but should also support him in ethical issues. Decision support systems must challenge the professional to reflect on his tasks, the uncertainties involved, and on his knowledge, skills and personal identity. All of these factors are of importance for the SC practitioner to make informed choices and to professionalize. 

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