Whose story is it anyway? Participatory approaches to science engagement

Whose story is it anyway? Participatory approaches to science engagement

Author: Robert Inglis – The Yazi Centre for Science and Society in Africa, South Africa

Despite awareness of negative impacts of deficit-model science communication (in which the scientist is seen as the knowledge-holder, and the target audience seen simply as the passive recipient), a huge number of science communication initiatives continue to use this mode. Not only is it often ineffective and regularly damaging, but it limits possibilities for the creation of new knowledge and active participation by society in science.

The deficit model has strong parallels to the concept of “banking education” used by education theorist and activist Paulo Freire to describe and critique traditional education systems. Paulo Freire was concerned about the extent to which these modes of engagement tend to entrench, rather than transform, the status quo. Paulo Friere proposed that it is through active participation in processes which transform their worlds, that members of society can, through “cycles of action and reflection” gain “critical consciousness” and come to understand the problems and needs within their realities.

The proposed workshop will be highly interactive with the aim of exploring some basic elements of participatory processes to encourage new approaches to science engagement and collaborative knowledge production. Inspired by Paulo Freirean methodologies, these will include; Defining the issues/s (by eliciting personal experiences of participants to bring them into personal engagement with the problems), (b) Exploring the issues through various creative strategies, (Photo voice, songwriting, participatory video) and finally, sharing those learnings through events or engagement activities.

Robert Inglis is an award-winning science communication practitioner with over 15 years’ experience in creating opportunities for audiences to become involved in and understand scientific research. He has used a range of participatory methods including; citizen science research on adolescent health, science related song-writing and performance, community radio collaborations between learners and researchers and co-creation of film and other media.

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

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