Growing science communication in developing regions

Growing science communication in developing regions

Author: Graham Walker – CPAS, Australian National University, Australia

  • Bhamini Kamudu – Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre, Mauritius
  • Kenneth Monjero – KALRO Science Centre Kenya, Kenya

We often ask what, but here we ask where is the future of science communication? One third of the world’s population is predicted to be living in Africa by 2050, however, with respect to science centres, as a whole Africa is being left behind. This session shares research on science communication capacity building in Africa, along with developing a theoretical base for such by synthesising models from development studies with those from science communication.

15 participants from Southern and East Africa (a small but representative sample given the sector’s size) in a science communication capacity building program focussed on science centres and outreach were investigated using traditional needs-based and contemporary asset-based development conceptualisations. These development theories parallel deficit and participatory approaches, respectively, within science communication and demonstrate synergies between the fields. Along with theoretical common ground, science communication plays a key role in the practicalities of development including progressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals – in this way science communication needs to be part of creating a sustainable future.

Data showed staffing, funding, governments, host institutions, and audiences are prominent needs and assets, networks are a major asset, and identified other influential factors. Analysis suggests a model for growth involving coordination on three-levels: (1) individual ‘pioneers’, (2) host institutions such as universities, cultural museums and research organisations, and (3) government policy and associated departmental capacity.

Case-studies showing this model in action from Africa and the Pacific Islands will be shared, along with discussion of how developed countries and established science communicators can play a constructive role – a practical outcome from the session will be connecting PCST delegates who are interested in capacity building with suitable programs and partners in Africa and/or the Pacific.

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

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Time