Since the origin of the PCST community in 1989, its multi-lingual character has been both a strength and challenge. In particular, the name of our field is problematic: public understanding, divulgacion, vulgarization, public engagement, apropiacion social, etc., are all terms that don’t translate well. A particular challenge has been the French term of “culture scientifique.” In English, the term “scientific culture” refers to the internal culture of science, the values and norms of the scientific community. It doesn’t capture the broad social and cultural meanings of the French. However, linking the learning that occurs in hobbies and other forms of recreation with public communication of science and technology suggests a new usage: “science culture.” This is an analogue for “cooking culture” or “reading culture” – an element of broader culture that describes particular enthusiasms, knowledge, activities, and sensibilities. Using examples from various hobbies (ranging from star-gazing to DIYBio), this paper will develop the idea of “science culture” as an English-language description of the goal of PCST.

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PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Hobbies and “Science Culture”

Bruce Lewenstein   Cornell University, United States

Since the origin of the PCST community in 1989, its multi-lingual character has been both a strength and challenge. In particular, the name of our field is problematic: public understanding, divulgacion, vulgarization, public engagement, apropiacion social, etc., are all terms that don’t translate well. A particular challenge has been the French term of “culture scientifique.” In English, the term “scientific culture” refers to the internal culture of science, the values and norms of the scientific community. It doesn’t capture the broad social and cultural meanings of the French. However, linking the learning that occurs in hobbies and other forms of recreation with public communication of science and technology suggests a new usage: “science culture.” This is an analogue for “cooking culture” or “reading culture” – an element of broader culture that describes particular enthusiasms, knowledge, activities, and sensibilities. Using examples from various hobbies (ranging from star-gazing to DIYBio), this paper will develop the idea of “science culture” as an English-language description of the goal of PCST.

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

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