PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Divergence between what Chilean environmental scientists and their publics think about science communication

Silvia Lazzarino  

Society increasingly needs citizens who can actively participate in policy decisions, many of which are crossed by scientific and technological dimensions. Strengthening scientific culture is a goal that many governments aim at by promoting actions to communicate science to the wider public. Following the Public Engagement with Science, or dialogue model, we believe that the development of science communication activities and products is not the sole province of scientists, journalists and science communication experts, and that much can be gained by including other actors in the discussion. The science communication team of the IEB-Chile conducted a study aimed at gathering the opinions of a variety of ecologists (IEB university academics and their graduate students) and publics (policy makers, NGOs, educators, local communities and industry) regarding what should be communicated, what for, to whom, and how (using which formats). In this presentation we share some of our results, highlighting the different views held by knowledge generators and the potential recipients of that knowledge. The results show a specificity of communication needs among ecologists, depending on their particular area of research. Analyzing the discourses of scientists and publics reveals a connection between the answers to the questions who to and how to communicate the results of research. We found that: a) Scientists consider policy makers and school community as the main publics to engage, b) Publics are able to identify many more different actors within each category of public than the scientists, c) Publics recognize a much wider range of formats for outreach products and activities than the scientists, and d) Publics demand less detailed information compared to the level of detail preferred by the scientists. Our results highlight the importance of building scientific culture incorporating the participation of a wide array of actors at the science and society interface.

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