An exploration of science communication in the world of decision-makers

An exploration of science communication in the world of decision-makers

Author: Ruth O’Connor – Australian National University, Australia

Dominique Brossard – University of Wisconsin
Birte Fähnrich – Zeppelin University
Alan Irwin – Copenhagen Business School
Jennifer Manyweathers – Charles Sturt University

Science can inform public policy, planning and management decisions in myriad ways from how to deal with a local water contamination crisis to managing transport infrastructure in the face of climate change. Despite this, little attention has been paid to the linkages between science communication and decision making.

In this panel we seek to start building a richer picture of who decision-makers are, how they access science, what they do with it, and the implications for science communication as a discipline.

We will bring to the table a range of perspectives including a scholarly perspective on how decision-makers fit in our current view of science in society (Professor Alan Irwin), perspectives on decision-makers working in environmental management in Australia and South Africa (Ruth O’Connor) and the perspectives from science communicators who have targeted decision-makers as audiences in their professional roles.

The types of questions that will be discussed include:

  1. How do decision-makers engage with science?
  2. What role does science communication play in decision-making? What role should it play?
  3. What forms of science communication are likely to have greater institutional impact?
  4. In what ways do decision-makers also engage in science communication?
  5. What are the implications of the above for our current framing of decision-makers in science communication research?

The aim of the discussion is to start building a more nuanced conceptualisation of the roles of institutionally based decision-makers in science communication including the role of science communication in decision-making.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication