Three principles from the book Communicating Science. A Global Perspective

Three principles from the book Communicating Science. A Global Perspective

Author: Toss Gascoigne – Australian National University, Australia


  • Margaret Kaseje – Professor & Director of Research and Programmes, Tropical Institute of Community Health and Development, Kenya
  • Joan Leach – Australian National University
  • Bernard Schiele – UQAM, Canada

The book collects accounts of how modern science communication has developed in 39 countries. Eleven rank outside the top hundred in per capita wealth, and five are Muslim-majority countries. Five are from Africa, seven from the Americas, 11 from Asia and the rest from Europe and Australasia. We have 39 reports from 115 authors.

Three principles emerge from these stories.

The first is that community knowledge is a powerful force. In rural Kenya, the number of babies delivered by unskilled people led to high mortality. Local science communication practices provided a solution. A baraza (community discussion) integrated the health problem with social solutions, and trained local motorcycle riders to transport mothers to hospitals. The baraza used role-plays to depict the arrival of a mother to a health facility, reactions from the health providers, eventual safe delivery of the baby, and mother and baby riding back home.

A second principle is how science communication can enhance the integration of science with other beliefs. Science and religion, for example, are not always at odds. The Malaysian chapter describes how Muslim concepts of halal (permitted) and haram (forbidden) determine the acceptability of biotechnology according to the principles of Islamic law. Does science pose any threat to the five purposes of maslahah (public interest): religion, life and health, progeny, intellect and property?

The third is an approach to pursuing and debating science for the public good. Science communication has made science more accessible, and public opinions and responses more likely to be sought. The “third mission”, an established principle across Europe, is an expectation that researchers will contribute to the growth, welfare and development of society.

Discussants: Toss Gascoigne (editor), Bernard Schiele (analyst), Margaret Kaseje (author) and Joan Leach (Editorial Board).

Chair Michelle Riedlinger (Editorial Board and chapter author).

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

Presentation type: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Transformation