PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


An Integrated Model of Science Communication

Nancy Longnecker  

The aim of communication is to elicit some change; the change might be in awareness, attitudes, understanding, skills or behaviour. In addition to a focus on the message and its delivery (content, media and modes), it is crucial to consider reception which is influenced by emotions, values, beliefs and sense of identity. This is equally the case for science communication as for other communication, in spite of a persistent conviction that science is about objective truth or reality and therefore science communication is not influenced by subjectivity. While accuracy and clarity are vital characteristics of effective science communication, another important characteristic is relevance. Effective science communication gets attention, is persuasive and is memorable. If one wants to truly communicate, an essential part of the complete process is to determine what message has been received, what meaning making has transpired and what (if anything) has been done as a result. In this talk, I present an approximation of an integrated model of science communication. This model is an evolution from the deficit and dialogic models of science communication. It has been influenced by decades of experience as a science communicator and by a wide range of scholarly literature, including informal and formal science and environmental education, cognitive and social psychology, communication studies, tourism, health promotion and marketing. My aim is to produce a theoretical framework that is useful to practitioners while eliciting discussion, further research and development of more effective science communication. Feedback on this work in progress is invited.

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