Author: Liesbeth de Bakker – Utrecht University, Netherlands, Netherlands


  • Sook-kyoung Cho – Gwangju National Science Museum, Gwangju, South Korea
  • Mohamed Elsonbaty Ramadan – Freelance Science Journalist and Science Communicator, Egypt
  • Karina Omuro Lupetti – Project Olhares, Federal University of Sao Carlos, Brazil
  • Esha Shah – Water Management Resources, Wageningen University, Netherlands
  • Kim Waddilove – Communications Officer SANTHE, Durban, South Africa

NB: Jenni Metcalfe’s message of 9 Jan: I am happy to make this session a formal part of the programme. We can discuss specifically how it is run later. (as a demonstration session / round table or unconference session)

Currently, inclusion and diversity, also referred to as equity in academic literature, are hot topics, be it in terms of social inclusion, accessibility of education, or gender equality. So it stands to reason, as organizers of the next PCST conference in Rotterdam in 2022, that we have inclusion and diversity high on the agenda. It is therefore promoted by a special team, consisting of Anne Dijkstra, University of Twente; Pedro Russo, University of Leiden; Cees Leeuwis, Wageningen University; and Liesbeth de Bakker, Utrecht University. In Aberdeen we would like to devote an online session to new ways of promoting equity in our own PCST conferences. And we are asking for the conference visitors’ help, especially those under-represented groups in our PCST family, such as the socio-culturally marginal voices from both global south and north, science journalists, policy makers, and/or certain groups of scholars. We are hoping the virtual nature of Aberdeen will already bring many new ideas to the table.

To kick-start this process, the session will start with five inspirational short pitches by five knowledgeable representatives from areas of the world or fields of professions that are not (so) well represented in the PCST community. They will share their ideas and expertise and finish with a question. After that, we will split into break out rooms with interested participants. In a plenary 25 minute wrap up, all new ideas will be presented. Let’s transform our PCST conferences of the future into more inclusive and diverse gatherings!

Presentation type: Demonstration
Theme: Transformation

Author: Liesbeth de Bakker – Utrecht University, Netherlands

An important source of information about science is news media. Media do not only inform about emerging issues in society, they also shape the public agenda through their agenda setting function and frames used by journalists. By studying news media content, a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the public discourse about emerging, controversial science issues, such as Synthetic Biology (SB), can be obtained.

The emerging field of Synthetic Biology (SB) is expected to bring many promising applications. However, as it is often regarded or described as a form of ‘extreme genetic engineering’, there are also concerns for safety, security and of an ethical nature. Hence, involving society in decision making regarding SB’s potential applications, risks, and ethical issues is necessary. Until now it was largely unknown how SB is covered and framed in Dutch news media. So in this study both qualitative and quantitative methods were used to investigate SB representation in Dutch newspapers.

A total of 261 Dutch newspaper articles (published between 2000 and 2016) were analyzed for 5 aspects. These aspects were also used in similar, recent studies carried out in other European countries. They include 1) publication data, 2) motives for publication, 3) normative impression, 4) mentioned applications, risks and ethical issues, 5) and metaphor use.

Results show that SB media representation was predominantly event-based, positive, future-oriented, relatively small, and science-led. SB media coverage in other European countries shows many similarities. Findings suggest that public discourse about SB in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe is still in its infancy and that the current representation of SB is skewed, mainly focused on the positive, application side of the new technology. In that sense it resembles developments seen in media coverage of genetic engineering. Opportunities and challenges for the public discourse about synthetic biology will be discussed.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices

Author: Liesbeth de Bakker – Utrecht University, Netherlands

Ayelet Baram-Tsabari – Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
Dacia Herbulock – Science Media Centre (NZ) – Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
Lotta Tomasson – Vetenskap & Allmanhet, Sweden
Caroline Wehrmann – Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

In this session, we will discuss how challenges and opportunities in science communication can be met with innovative tools, which share a deep commitment to dialogue and audience-centered techniques. Five stories will be shared as a basis for the following group discussions.

Many scientists struggle to make their stories accessible to a general audience. Now they can rely on the free of charge and scientist-friendly De-Jargonizer, which is hosted at It will suggest what vocabulary to avoid while interacting with the public.

True and profound interaction with your audience is hard to achieve. Scientists in Sweden can now use the online – Toolbox for Science Communication ( – for inspiration, methods and support in engaging with society.

What is actually going in public discourse? In the Dutch Teaching and Learning Lab, cameras and microphones enable researchers to observe and study in detail multiple aspects of interactions and group dynamics in science dialogue.

In New Zealand a new “micro” training format for interactive communication is developed. It targets hard-to-reach scientists who are less inclined to seek out science communication training. It offers brief, intensive feedback sessions with individuals during scientific conferences, breaking down entrenched attitudes about who needs this training and why.

As science stories increasingly are being based on complex problems, we explain how practitioners, science communication experts and students analyze those complex problems together and develop strategies and tools to find solutions in Dutch ‘C-labs’.

After short presentations the round table will proceed into group discussions. There participants can deepen their understanding of the case they are most interested in, and hear about the pitfalls and challenges. In a plenary wrap-up we will report about the lessons learned.

Presentation type: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Teaching science communication