Background: "Science and Technology Communication" is an emerging area of knowledge and expertis the world over and is in its infancy in most of the developing countries. By and large, declining interest in basic sciences, inadequate science coverage in mass media, lower level of scientific literacy, misunderstanding between scientists and journalists, and above all unfortunately least preference to public understanding of science by scientists and journalists themselves lead to serve as an inhibitor towards establishing "S&T Communication" as an independent discipline of human knowledge. Objective/ Hypothesis: To have an assessment and analysis of public understanding of “Science & Technology Communication” as a subject and to realize as what exactly people understand from this phrase.

Methods: The author had conceptualized the idea of devising a forum for exchanging newer ideas and issues emanating to S&T Communication. India’s Annual National Science Communication Congress is a result of such efforts. Beginning from 2001, we have organized 7 Science Communication Congresses in various parts of India with international participation. In the beginning, a great deviation from main subject was observed. Almost 50% papers/ presentations were on telecommunication, information communication technology, and/or communication apparatuses and instruments or gazettes, etc. Some scholars had submitted articles on Galaxies, Sun Flairs, besides a few research papers on similar pure scientific subjects. Only a few papers, a bit closer to our subject, were on science education, agricultural extension, technology transfer, and alike. Reviewers found it extremely difficult to select papers for presentation. Then slowly, with some efforts, motivation, orientation, support and training, the situation has started improving in following years. The data was drawn, analyzed and interpreted from submissions by participants of these congresses.

Results: Still there is a great apathy amongst participants about the subject. They are excited with big stories in nanotechnology, space science, biomedical science, nuclear science, etc., but least interested in process of its communication to public hence lacking clarity. Some participants from other countries also display same results.

Conclusions: Science and technology being one of the important driving forces in today’s world has been well established and linking it to society has been well emphasized, still the gap is widening. The author wishes to highlight the need of developing an understanding of "Science" of "Science Communication" especially amongst scientists and communicators to achieve the desired level of public understanding of science to be able to bridge the gap between science and the public.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Public understanding of "Science & Technology Communication"
Experiences from India's Annual National Science Communication Congresses (2001‐2007)

Manoj Patairiya   National Council for Science & Technology Communication

Background: "Science and Technology Communication" is an emerging area of knowledge and expertis the world over and is in its infancy in most of the developing countries. By and large, declining interest in basic sciences, inadequate science coverage in mass media, lower level of scientific literacy, misunderstanding between scientists and journalists, and above all unfortunately least preference to public understanding of science by scientists and journalists themselves lead to serve as an inhibitor towards establishing "S&T Communication" as an independent discipline of human knowledge. Objective/ Hypothesis: To have an assessment and analysis of public understanding of “Science & Technology Communication” as a subject and to realize as what exactly people understand from this phrase.

Methods: The author had conceptualized the idea of devising a forum for exchanging newer ideas and issues emanating to S&T Communication. India’s Annual National Science Communication Congress is a result of such efforts. Beginning from 2001, we have organized 7 Science Communication Congresses in various parts of India with international participation. In the beginning, a great deviation from main subject was observed. Almost 50% papers/ presentations were on telecommunication, information communication technology, and/or communication apparatuses and instruments or gazettes, etc. Some scholars had submitted articles on Galaxies, Sun Flairs, besides a few research papers on similar pure scientific subjects. Only a few papers, a bit closer to our subject, were on science education, agricultural extension, technology transfer, and alike. Reviewers found it extremely difficult to select papers for presentation. Then slowly, with some efforts, motivation, orientation, support and training, the situation has started improving in following years. The data was drawn, analyzed and interpreted from submissions by participants of these congresses.

Results: Still there is a great apathy amongst participants about the subject. They are excited with big stories in nanotechnology, space science, biomedical science, nuclear science, etc., but least interested in process of its communication to public hence lacking clarity. Some participants from other countries also display same results.

Conclusions: Science and technology being one of the important driving forces in today’s world has been well established and linking it to society has been well emphasized, still the gap is widening. The author wishes to highlight the need of developing an understanding of "Science" of "Science Communication" especially amongst scientists and communicators to achieve the desired level of public understanding of science to be able to bridge the gap between science and the public.

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

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