Although in recent years there is a growing understanding that the communication of science is no longer restricted to the natural sciences, relatively little attention has been paid to the issues that social scientists or historians are faced with when communicating about their research and findings in the public domain. There is a general interest for aspects of social history, as shown by the wide collection of newspapers and non-academic journals, the so-called “historical movies” or soap operas which ambience is “somewhere in the past”. However, the spreading of common-sense views about the historical past, as well as of deeply rooted prejudices seem to be communicated more easily by the broader and non-specialist media than serious researches are. It generates a disturbing reality: history as a science is simultaneously marginalized and immensely popular in the public domain. In this sense, how could one approach the general public and the basic education sectors in schools -private and public - in order to bridge the gaps between academic history and the general public? With these preoccupations in mind, a group or historians coordinated by me created in 2008 the National Olympiads of History of Brazil, sponsored by Ministry of Education/ CNPq. The traditional model of scientific Olympiads was successfully adapted to deal with historical themes, documents and images ranging from the colonial times to the nowadays history. The first edition took place in 2009 and five years later, in its 5th edition, the Olympiads brought together 42 thousand students (from 12 to 17) and their history teachers, originating from each and every state in Brazil and dedicated to solving questions and writing essays during 3 months. What are the most important
results of this initiative? Can a Scientific Olympiad on History change public perceptions and provide social inclusion in terms of scientific citizenship? What are the lessons for the communication of “social sciences”?

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

And what about history?
the public communication of science and the human sciences
The case of the national olympiads of history in Brazil (2009-2013)

Cristina Meneguello   Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil

Although in recent years there is a growing understanding that the communication of science is no longer restricted to the natural sciences, relatively little attention has been paid to the issues that social scientists or historians are faced with when communicating about their research and findings in the public domain. There is a general interest for aspects of social history, as shown by the wide collection of newspapers and non-academic journals, the so-called “historical movies” or soap operas which ambience is “somewhere in the past”. However, the spreading of common-sense views about the historical past, as well as of deeply rooted prejudices seem to be communicated more easily by the broader and non-specialist media than serious researches are. It generates a disturbing reality: history as a science is simultaneously marginalized and immensely popular in the public domain. In this sense, how could one approach the general public and the basic education sectors in schools -private and public - in order to bridge the gaps between academic history and the general public? With these preoccupations in mind, a group or historians coordinated by me created in 2008 the National Olympiads of History of Brazil, sponsored by Ministry of Education/ CNPq. The traditional model of scientific Olympiads was successfully adapted to deal with historical themes, documents and images ranging from the colonial times to the nowadays history. The first edition took place in 2009 and five years later, in its 5th edition, the Olympiads brought together 42 thousand students (from 12 to 17) and their history teachers, originating from each and every state in Brazil and dedicated to solving questions and writing essays during 3 months. What are the most important
results of this initiative? Can a Scientific Olympiad on History change public perceptions and provide social inclusion in terms of scientific citizenship? What are the lessons for the communication of “social sciences”?

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