In our "knowledge societies" different sections of the public are often interested, concerned, or even "excited" about science. But what is happening from the opposite direction? How interested, concerned and "excited" are scientists about the public?

This issue is recently receiving more attention complementing established interest with the mapping and surveillance of public opinions on scientific matters. Much governmental andcorporate research has focussed on the public understanding of science or the communicative processes itself (e.g. science in the media). The actual role of scientists in establishing and organizing a "dialogue" with the public as well as the incentives and obstacles allowing and preventing them from doing so have been less well investigated.

In many countries, both government and other corporate actors have called upon scientists to play a more active part in communicating with different publics. Authorities and researchers from various countries have recently executed surveys aiming to detect the factors affecting science communication by scientists and engineers.

Our presentation will present preliminary findings from a Swedish case study, where universities are by law obliged to engage in public outreach, known as the "3rd undertaking" besides research and education. The study aims to explore the motivations and barriers of different groups of scientists to engage in public outreach. Our survey sample includes scientists at different career stages, aiming to explore the possibility of a "cultural shift" in opinions regarding Public Outreach. We will show results about the factors influencing scientists in their choices about whether and how to enter public life. Thus, we focus on specific issues such as the impact of institutional and peer pressures to communicate or not, choice of methods and audiences, perceived values to the scientists and to society as well as the personal and social values placed by the scientists on communicating with society.

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PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Scientists in the public sphere
Motivations and barriers for scientists to engage in public outreach in Sweden

Sebastian Linke   Göteborg Centre for Public Learning and Understanding of Science

Olga Stepanova   Göteborg Centre for Public Learning and Understanding of Science

Christian Stöhr   Göteborg Centre for Public Learning and Understanding of Science

Ilan Chabay   Göteborg Centre for Public Learning and Understanding of Science

In our "knowledge societies" different sections of the public are often interested, concerned, or even "excited" about science. But what is happening from the opposite direction? How interested, concerned and "excited" are scientists about the public?

This issue is recently receiving more attention complementing established interest with the mapping and surveillance of public opinions on scientific matters. Much governmental andcorporate research has focussed on the public understanding of science or the communicative processes itself (e.g. science in the media). The actual role of scientists in establishing and organizing a "dialogue" with the public as well as the incentives and obstacles allowing and preventing them from doing so have been less well investigated.

In many countries, both government and other corporate actors have called upon scientists to play a more active part in communicating with different publics. Authorities and researchers from various countries have recently executed surveys aiming to detect the factors affecting science communication by scientists and engineers.

Our presentation will present preliminary findings from a Swedish case study, where universities are by law obliged to engage in public outreach, known as the "3rd undertaking" besides research and education. The study aims to explore the motivations and barriers of different groups of scientists to engage in public outreach. Our survey sample includes scientists at different career stages, aiming to explore the possibility of a "cultural shift" in opinions regarding Public Outreach. We will show results about the factors influencing scientists in their choices about whether and how to enter public life. Thus, we focus on specific issues such as the impact of institutional and peer pressures to communicate or not, choice of methods and audiences, perceived values to the scientists and to society as well as the personal and social values placed by the scientists on communicating with society.

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

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