Science communication as culture: Entertainment, interaction, and emotion

Science communication as culture: Entertainment, interaction, and emotion

Author: Sarah Davies – Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Megan Halpern – Michigan State University
Maja Horst – University of Copenhagen
David Kirby – University of Manchester
Bruce Lewenstein – Cornell University

For several decades, science communication researchers have cautioned scientists against deficit thinking—the idea that providing information about science will straightforwardly ensure public appreciation of science. Instead, scientists and science communicators have been encouraged to embrace public engagement with science (PES), which brings with it a host of best practices, ranging from storytelling and humour to interactive exhibits to citizen deliberation.

This roundtable discusses and interrogates these developments, focusing on the increasingly dominant sense that science communication is not external to (popular) culture and wider consumption of entertainment media, but is an important part of it. Its starting point is that we should understand science communication not as a process of sharing information, but as a space of collective meaning-making. As such, the discussion will explore what it means to understand science communication as culture, and how science communication practices are being articulated in different popular culture formats.

Participants in the roundtable will briefly present work, and raise questions, around the material, emotional, cultural, and experiential aspects of science communication. This will include, for instance, the ways in which the scientific community has started employing entertainment media as vehicles for science communication, how an interactive installation was used to engage publics in discussions about the social responsibility of science, and the notion of the ’emotional labour’ of public communication. These provocations will be used to trigger a general discussion of what it means to plan, practice and analyse science communication as culture.

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

Presentation type: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Building a theoretical basis for science communication