Big challenges for small countries in science communication

Big challenges for small countries in science communication

Author: Brian Trench – Dublin City University, Ireland

Marta Entradas – SciComPT, Portugal
Per Hetland – University of Oslo, Norway
Fabien Medvecky – SCANZ
Padraig Murphy – Dublin City University
Sofia Otero – University of Chile

Science communication programmes, policies and practices have been spreading internationally for over two decades. A series of panels at PCST 2014 considered how this was happening, applying common criteria for reports from a dozen countries. Journal papers and special editions, and book chapters, have described the spread, more often stressing similarities than differences.

Less attention has been paid to the political, economic, cultural and geographical factors that affect how wide and how deep the development of science communication is in particular countries. Nation-states tend to set boundaries and structures for science communication, as they do for other institutional and cultural developments. One factor shaping science communication may be the size and status of a country, that is, whether it has a central or peripheral standing in a region or continent, or in the world.

This panel of science communicators and science communication scholars from smaller countries will discuss the disadvantages and possible advantages for these countries in adopting and promoting science communication for their needs.

Among the issues for consideration are, on the one hand: the strong influence of larger, more powerful neighbours, and the perceived need to follow their example; the requirement of smaller countries to “talk up” their scientific achievements; the pressure in smaller countries for communities to conform to the national agenda; relatively smaller funds for scientific research in general, and for science communication in particular (though with exceptions); less historical depth in scientific institutions. And, on the other hand: the relative ease of forming national networks and building inter-sectoral relations; relatively immediate access to power-holders and –influencers; greater agility and flexibility, allowing ‘turn moments’ in policy for science communication. The panelists will reflect on the experience of their countries with reference to these issues and to the political contexts which influence how they arise in those countries.

Presentation type: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Comparing science communication across cultures