Use of the term “engagement” in science communication has arguably become the fashion of the times. But while the motivations for, and intended outcomes of engagement have been discussed widely, the value of engagement activities is difficult to demonstrate. I argue that this issue is reflected in the difficulties encountered in the evaluation of these activities and suggest that for an engagement process to be truly participative, participants should also be included in establishing the value of (i.e., evaluating) the activity.

In this paper I will provide an exploratory account of a particular instance of emergent engagement—the formation of a group of farmers called Climate Champions. The Climate Champions program was established in recognition of the role of peer interaction in how farmers gain new knowledge and adopt new practices. It aims to put farmers who are knowledgeable about managing and adapting to climate variability and climate change in touch with other farmers. As part of the initial meeting of the group, participants discussed and
established their own values for the program.

This research raises two sets of questions that I will consider. First, how can focus groups and conversation transcripts be used in value oriented science communication research? Second, how can values be used to guide further engagement work in evaluation? Through the Climate Champions example, I will explore how engagement processes might be used for soliciting and including values of those who participate. I will discuss the potential effects of facilitation and transcript analysis techniques and the implications of value awareness in engagement activities more generally.

">
 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Values and evaluation
Observations of emergent engagement

Melanie McKenzie   The University of Queensland, School of English, Media Studies & Art History

Use of the term “engagement” in science communication has arguably become the fashion of the times. But while the motivations for, and intended outcomes of engagement have been discussed widely, the value of engagement activities is difficult to demonstrate. I argue that this issue is reflected in the difficulties encountered in the evaluation of these activities and suggest that for an engagement process to be truly participative, participants should also be included in establishing the value of (i.e., evaluating) the activity.

In this paper I will provide an exploratory account of a particular instance of emergent engagement—the formation of a group of farmers called Climate Champions. The Climate Champions program was established in recognition of the role of peer interaction in how farmers gain new knowledge and adopt new practices. It aims to put farmers who are knowledgeable about managing and adapting to climate variability and climate change in touch with other farmers. As part of the initial meeting of the group, participants discussed and
established their own values for the program.

This research raises two sets of questions that I will consider. First, how can focus groups and conversation transcripts be used in value oriented science communication research? Second, how can values be used to guide further engagement work in evaluation? Through the Climate Champions example, I will explore how engagement processes might be used for soliciting and including values of those who participate. I will discuss the potential effects of facilitation and transcript analysis techniques and the implications of value awareness in engagement activities more generally.

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

BACK TO TOP