Science Agora, a multifaceted science communication event held annually since 2006, represents Japan’s most current activities by inviting competitive proposals nationwide. While more than a hundred individual programs welcome their targeted audiences, the event as a whole is for everyone in society at all ages, irrespective of background. Unlike academic meetings, lay people can enjoy hands-on activities offered by research institutions or groups joined by leading scientists; and unlike ordinary festivals, serious discussions on societal issues closely related to specific scientific topics are held among a spectrum of stakeholders to exchange opinions.
 
Its uniqueness lies in the diversity of exhibitors and participants. Having been initiated with programs by science communicators and their colleagues, the event, after its six-year history, now comprises hundreds of exhibitors from various sectors such as laboratories, research institutions, private companies, science centers, government organizations, NPOs and individuals. Those exhibitors are expected to interact and learn on site so that the event induces improvement in their science communication skills, and thereby deliver their experience to local activities. Excellent practices can also be seen as models that are to be analyzed; some are specific to Japanese culture while others are rather more universal.
 
Reviewing the history of Science Agora from multiple perspectives, this presentation offers suggestions for communicating science based on case studies. The focus will be on culture and social context in Japan, whereas influence made by changes in national policy background will also be mentioned. Furthermore, the authors wish to discuss with meeting participants on additionality, or what quality of science communication can be added to the simple sum of individual programs by organizing them into one place of assembly.
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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Science Agora
The history, evolution and evaluation of Japan’s leading science communication event

Senkei Umehara   Japan Science and Technology Agency

Masataka Watanabe   Japan Science and Technology Agency

Science Agora, a multifaceted science communication event held annually since 2006, represents Japan’s most current activities by inviting competitive proposals nationwide. While more than a hundred individual programs welcome their targeted audiences, the event as a whole is for everyone in society at all ages, irrespective of background. Unlike academic meetings, lay people can enjoy hands-on activities offered by research institutions or groups joined by leading scientists; and unlike ordinary festivals, serious discussions on societal issues closely related to specific scientific topics are held among a spectrum of stakeholders to exchange opinions.
 
Its uniqueness lies in the diversity of exhibitors and participants. Having been initiated with programs by science communicators and their colleagues, the event, after its six-year history, now comprises hundreds of exhibitors from various sectors such as laboratories, research institutions, private companies, science centers, government organizations, NPOs and individuals. Those exhibitors are expected to interact and learn on site so that the event induces improvement in their science communication skills, and thereby deliver their experience to local activities. Excellent practices can also be seen as models that are to be analyzed; some are specific to Japanese culture while others are rather more universal.
 
Reviewing the history of Science Agora from multiple perspectives, this presentation offers suggestions for communicating science based on case studies. The focus will be on culture and social context in Japan, whereas influence made by changes in national policy background will also be mentioned. Furthermore, the authors wish to discuss with meeting participants on additionality, or what quality of science communication can be added to the simple sum of individual programs by organizing them into one place of assembly.

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

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