Participatory science communication changing publics

Participatory science communication changing publics

Author: Jennifer Metcalfe – Econnect Communication, Australia


  • Heather Doran – Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science, University of Dundee, United Kingdom
  • Maja Horst – University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Jennifer Manyweathers – Charles Sturt University, Australia
  • Michiel van Oudheusden – University of Cambridge, Belgium

Participatory science communication happens when scientists are one of the groups participating on a relatively equal basis with various publics, including policymakers, citizens, school children, farmers, technologists and industry. The aim of such participatory science communication is often to address an issue or societal problem.

In the early 2000s, a new participatory model of science communication gained traction in the scholarly literature. The participatory model appealed to scholars who theorised the democratisation of science as a solution to engaging publics in jointly tackling societal issues of concern. For controversial scientific issues, like climate change, public participation was argued to be beneficial for critically reviewing research, solving problems or supporting behaviour and policy changes. However, participatory science communication can be as much about the process of diverse publics engaging with each other as the outcomes.

This Roundtable session will begin with a short overview of specific but diverse cases of participatory science communication including forensic science; participation of scientists and policymakers in supporting science communicators; livestock production groups involving multiple stakeholders; and debate on nuclear power. There will then be a moderated discussion about our various perceptions and definitions of ‘participatory science communication’; what works or not with participatory science communication; how publics and scientists can be changed by the process of participation; and how scholars and practitioners can support more participatory science communication programs. The session will then be opened to questions and discussion with the audience.

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

Presentation type: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Transformation