Author: Jennifer Metcalfe – Econnect Communication, Australia
My PhD research compared the dominant science communication models (deficit, dialogue, participation) with case studies of practice. I found that the models proposed by scholars do not appear to take into account the extensive nature and mix of objectives for initiating or participating in science communication activities.
Most science engagement activities have objectives and characteristics that reflect a mix of those theorised for deficit, dialogue and sometimes participatory activities. My research indicates that this coexistence of models in practice appears to be not merely an unintentional lucky accident but a necessity for science communication activities to achieve their desired outcomes, especially when the science is controversial.
My research indicates that science communication is not an evolution from deficit to dialogue to participation (or from evil to good). In fact, it appears that long-term participatory science communication can lead to more effective deficit and dialogue-style communication.
Furthermore, I found that the nature of the relationships between the actors involved in a science engagement activity can determine the success of that activity in achieving its desired outcomes. Trusted relationships, in particular, are critical for participatory science communication activities.
My research of practice improves our understanding of how theorised science communication models might be further shaped to better reflect and even influence practice. I propose the new nexus model for science communication and describe how this can be implemented within the practical contexts of considering the objectives for engagement, who is involved in the engagement activity, and how positive relationships can be fostered among those participating.
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Presentation type: Visual presentation