Science Communication
What is science communication?

Making science part of everyday life

Bridging the gap between science and society

Making science accessible and exciting to young people and non-scientists

What are we trying to achieve?

Bring South Africans closer to science

Linkages between people and science

Relevance of science every day and future

Develop science communication culture and skills

Innovative and exciting ways

Why?

Quality of life

Future workforce

Public and political support

Science as culture and heritage

About Science Communication

In the last two decades science has delivered dramatic results relevant to health, survival and lifestyle. In many cases the pace of scientific change has accelerated beyond what the public can keep up with, let alone comprehend and accept.

Within the international scientific community there is an increasing awareness of the duty and responsibility of publicly funded scientists to make their work more accessible to the general public. For many scientists public communication does not come naturally, and even when they are willing to get involved, they need some help. Journalists, on the other hand, are often intimidated by science and don't know where to find credible science stories and media friendly scientists.

Within a democratic society where science must be answerable to the public, there is a real need to find new and innovative ways of more effective mass communication about the benefits of science, but also about areas of concern to the general public.

The mass media undeniably is the major role player in stimulating public debate and shaping public opinion on scientific questions and issues. If scientists don't engage the media effectively, people with opposing views (anti-science) will! Silence and avoidance on the part of scientists will fuel ignorance and mistrust of science.

Scientists have to accept that they must operate within the parameters and news values of the media. Worldwide science reporting is moving away from "celebratory" reports about "space and dinosaurs" towards debate and issues around the impact of science on society. It's no longer "Professor, please tell us about this fantastic project?' but rather: "Explain why you are doing this research, who's funding it, what is your agenda?"

While we want to challenge (and help) the mass media to do science better, it is equally important to challenge (and help) scientists to do media better!

Just like good science, good communication requires commitment, planning, skills and appropriate levels of resources.

Science communication ...

is not... is about ...
Promoting an institution
Glorifying science without asking questions
One-way flow of information
Dialogue
Engagement
Respect for audience and context
Science and how it matters to society
Scientists as key actors


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