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Special Issue "Connecting Science with People: Creating Science Communication that Matters"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2023 | Viewed by 2458

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Lloyd Spencer Davis
E-Mail Website
Leading Guest Editor
Centre for Science Communication, University of Otago, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
Interests: frameworks for science communication; communication of science in online videos and social media; communication of science in national parks
Dr. Wiebke Finkler
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Otago Bussiness School, University of Otago, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
Interests: the power of visual media as part of strategic marketing communication for positive environmental and social change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to invite you to consider contributing to the following Special Issue of Sustainability on the topic of “Connecting Science with People: Creating Science Communication that Matters”.

This Special Issue will consist of a select group of contributors handpicked because they have something innovative and new to say about the field of science communication. The purpose of the issue is not to present science communication as it is, but to demonstrate what it can be—in other words, to interrogate it, to prod it, and to illuminate where it can go in the future. Hence, it will contain papers that examine the dogma that has arisen in the field, papers that present new frameworks or test alternative theories, and papers that provide new directions for fruitful research. As such, it is sure to be a controversial and—if done as well as planned—a well-cited collection of papers that deal with the big issues facing our field.

There has never been a more critical time for the sustainability of the Earth, including human beings, which depends on our understanding of science and technology. On one level, science and technology are at the heart of all the problems facing the world, from pandemics to pollution, from declining biodiversity to increasing poverty, from habitat destruction to burgeoning obesity levels, all of which have the use or misuse of some aspect of science or technology is at its core. Conversely, and rather fortuitously, science and technology also hold the keys to solving those problems. For such solutions to succeed, however, it is important that the public understand science (e.g., there is little value in producing a vaccine if people will not use it). The problem is that science can appear dense and hard for ordinary people to get their heads around. That is where science communication comes in: It acts as a bridge that facilitates exchange and understanding between scientists and the public.

Over the last 40 years, the academic field of science communication has emerged. Like all new disciplines, it began with good intentions but little data. Ideas were put forward and batted around in the academic form of natural selection. From that process, certain concepts have become prominent in science communication, dogma even, though a real theoretical framework upon which to hang them still eludes much of the discipline. The time for a rigorous self-examination is long overdue, and this Special Issue aims to start that process.

In this Special Issue, original research articles and commentaries are welcome. Research areas may include (but are not limited to) the following: examination of the dogma that has arisen in the field of science communication; papers that present new frameworks or test alternative theories; papers that examine how best science should be marketed; papers that consider science communication’s involvement in bringing about behavioral change to drive sustainability; and papers that provide new directions for fruitful research.

We expect it to be a curated collection of papers that deal with the big issues facing the field of science communication and, thus, the significant issues that will help to determine whether science can be a stumbling block or a steppingstone for the future sustainability of our species and planet.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Prof. Dr. Lloyd Spencer Davis
Dr. Wiebke Finkler
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • science communication
  • dogma
  • framework
  • deficit model
  • citizen science
  • testing
  • behaviour change
  • marketing
  • sustainability

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Article
Public Understanding of Ignorance as Critical Science Literacy
Sustainability 2022, 14(10), 5920; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14105920 - 13 May 2022
Viewed by 487
Abstract
We are largely ignorant. At least, there are many more things we are ignorant of than knowledgeable of. Yet, the common perception of ignorance as a negative trait has left it rather unloved in debates around making knowledge public, including science communication in [...] Read more.
We are largely ignorant. At least, there are many more things we are ignorant of than knowledgeable of. Yet, the common perception of ignorance as a negative trait has left it rather unloved in debates around making knowledge public, including science communication in its various guises. However, ignorance is a complex and essential part of science; it performs a number of legitimate roles, and is performed in a range of legitimate ways within science. In this paper, I argue that it is vital to understand when ignorance is an appropriate, legitimate part of the scientific process, and when ignorance is misused or abused in science. I argue that understanding ignorance is a central aspect of public understanding of science, especially in terms critical science literacy. Critical science literacy argues that more than simply an understanding of scientific facts and processes, a key component of what scientific literacy should aim for is an understanding of the tacit knowledge of science. I present a typology of ignorance and argue that fostering a greater public understanding of ignorance is a rarely acknowledged, yet essential, aspect of making science public, and that it is a challenge that those engaged in and committed to better public understanding of science should take very seriously. Full article
Communication
@thermogramer: Thermal Imaging as a Tool for Science Communication and E-Learning in Social Media
Sustainability 2022, 14(5), 3096; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14053096 - 07 Mar 2022
Viewed by 504
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic boosted the presence of thermal cameras in our society. These devices are becoming cheaper and smaller and can even be plugged in our smartphones. Therefore, soon enough everybody will have access to these instruments. Thermal cameras have been widely used [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic boosted the presence of thermal cameras in our society. These devices are becoming cheaper and smaller and can even be plugged in our smartphones. Therefore, soon enough everybody will have access to these instruments. Thermal cameras have been widely used for industrial, research and/or academic purposes. Now, in the rise of the online era, this work proposes and assesses a new application for such devices as visual engaging tools for science communication and e-learning in social media. Here, we introduce @thermogramer as a science communication channel that shows multispectral (optical and thermal) images of daily life objects to explain the science behind different topics of social interest (climate change, emerging technologies, health, and popular traditions). This young project is already present in social media, press, TV and museum’s exhibitions, and its designed content have been already useful for new inexperienced users, science educators and communicators. Full article
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Commentary
We Need to Do Better: Five Notable Failings in Science Communication
Sustainability 2022, 14(14), 8393; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14148393 - 08 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 362
Abstract
Despite significant growth in interest and investment in science communication, the field has demonstrated some high-profile failures in recent years—exemplified by anti-vaccine and anti-climate change beliefs—supported by interest groups that are often highly effective at promoting anti-science messages. This paper looks at five [...] Read more.
Despite significant growth in interest and investment in science communication, the field has demonstrated some high-profile failures in recent years—exemplified by anti-vaccine and anti-climate change beliefs—supported by interest groups that are often highly effective at promoting anti-science messages. This paper looks at five key areas where science communication research and practice need to do better, and offers some solutions, in order to achieve the impact that science communicators strive for. Full article
Commentary
Science Communication at a Time of Crisis: Emergency, Democracy, and Persuasion
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 5103; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14095103 - 23 Apr 2022
Viewed by 718
Abstract
This commentary essay reflects on the role of science communication in contemporary democratic societies, with a particular focus on how it should be imagined and practiced in times of crisis and emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change. I distinguish between [...] Read more.
This commentary essay reflects on the role of science communication in contemporary democratic societies, with a particular focus on how it should be imagined and practiced in times of crisis and emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change. I distinguish between science communication that is oriented to strategic and democratic goals, and argue for the continued importance of science communication in nurturing democracy even at times of crisis. I close by suggesting principles that might guide such communication, and by relating these arguments to an understanding of science communication as ‘the social conversation around science’. Full article
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