What is the legacy of five decades of science communication research?
Author: Massimiano Bucchi
Massimiano Bucchi, University of Trento, Italy
Sarah R. Davies, University of Copenhagen
Marina Joubert, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Bruce Lewenstein, Cornell University, USA
Brian Trench, President PCST
Over recent years, there has been much discussion of the status of science communication as a discipline, as a field of empirical research and theoretical reflection. But when a major international academic publisher commissions an anthology of ‘major works’ in our field, we can surely say that science communication studies have come of age. From a scattering of personal stories, manuals and essays there has emerged a growing stream of publications that now constitute a ‘literature’ in public communication of science. Analytical and critical work in science communication has consolidated in the past two decades, and the rate of publication has accelerated greatly. But what is the legacy of five decades of science communication research? What we know and what we still don’t know? Which theories and models have become most influential and which empirical results stand the test of time? Which works can be considered classics and what are the most recent and relevant trends? What do the best of science communication studies say to science communication practice? Is it inevitable that contemporary science communication studies revisit old themes again and again? The publication a four-volume ‘mini library’ of public communication of science (Routledge, Major Works series 2015) is the occasion to reflect on the state and maturation of research in our field with the two editors Massimiano Bucchi (also new editor of the journal Public Understanding of Science) and Brian Trench (President PCST); Bruce Lewenstein (one of the key figures in establishing science communication as a university subject, who has written extensively on the history of public communication of science); Sarah Davies (preparing a book on science communication theory) and Marina Joubert (with a longstanding experience in science communication practice and now also active as researcher in the field).