Local Public Engagement with Science
May 7, 2PM EDT, 1PM CDT, 11AM PDT
This webinar focused on using PES strategies to engage communities on issues of local importance. It featured presentations from Kate Brandes, Science Program Director, The Nurture Nature Center; Jen Kretser, Director of Programs, The Wild Center; and David Sittenfeld, Program Manager (Forum), Museum of Science, Boston, followed by an audience Q&A.
Dan Kahan, Cultural Cognition Project, Yale University
June 4, 3 PM EDT, 2 CDT, 12 PDT
Research on cultural cognition suggests that members of the public process science-related information by assessing its coherence with values and commitments that connect them to important affinity groups. This suggests a two-channel science communication strategy that combines information content with cultural meanings selected to promote open-minded assessment of information across diverse groups. This webinar focused on this research and explored public engagement strategies for improving science communication followed by Q & A.
Dan Kahan is a leading scholar in the fields of criminal law and evidence at Yale Law School and is known for his theory of cultural cognition. Members of the Cultural Cognition Project use the methods of various disciplines—including social psychology, anthropology, communications and political science—to measure the mechanisms of cultural cognition and to identify processes of democratic decision-making by which society can resolve culturally grounded differences in belief in a manner that is both congenial to persons of diverse cultural outlooks and consistent with sound public policymaking.
Dietram Scheufele, University of Wisconsin—Madison
July 9, 3 PM EDT, 2 CDT, 12 PDT
A number of past studies in the US and the UK have found that most scientists blame public ignorance of science for flawed policy preferences and political choices. They believe the public is inadequately informed about science topics and that, except for a small minority, the public is uninterested in becoming more knowledgeable. They favor one-way communication with the public, viewing engagement as chiefly about dissemination rather than two-way dialogue and active public participation in decisions. In UK data, only 12% indicated engagement meant listening to or attempting to understand the views of the public. But more recent studies involving both online and face-to-face environments have shown the emergence of new cohorts of young scientists who find value in both talking and listening to the public. Dietram Scheufele, Professor of Science Communication at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Co-Chair of the National Academies’ Roundtable on Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences, shared recent research findings.
How can those of us in the informal science education community, which has been driven by “public understanding of science” and the deficit model, take advantage of this new receptivity to engagement? If we can understand the benefits of engagement to the experts, we can design our activities to meet the needs of both the public and the scientific community, and make engagement programs a multi-directional win-win proposition for all.