The US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has posed the question, What kind of person is a science communicator for the NAE? Thanks to a July 26, 2010 posting about science communication on Science Cheerleader, we have an answer.
The Science Cheerleader posting opened with a discussion of another science communication initiative (from the Union of Concerned Scientists) and goes on to provide more context for this video about NAE communicators.
Matthew Nisbet at the Framing Science blog recently posted about a science communication initiative at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The organization is announcing a new $5000 award for public engagement by early career scientists. From Nisbet’s July 27, 2010 posting,
It will be interesting to see the criteria by which nominations are judged. As I noted last month [June 30, 2010 posting], how public engagement is ultimately defined, its goals and outcomes, remains an open question. …
There is more major news on this front [public engagement] coming in August including the launch of a new blog, and a special issue of a leading journal with articles that review different dimensions of public engagement activities along with the types of structural and cultural transformations needed within the science community and at universities.
Over at the Pasco Phronesis blog, David Bruggeman weighs in with similar concerns regarding how the AAAS defines public engagement and other related issues (from his July 27, 2010 posting),
It’s great to have something to encourage public engagement with science and engineering, and also great to target researchers before they have reached tenure. Unfortunately, the size of the prize frankly isn’t worth the hassle of trying to demonstrate excellence in an area that is not likely to matter much in the calculation of tenure.
David’s commentary about the US situation (more detailed than I’ve represented here), points up a significant difference between Canada and the US with regard to science and pubic engagement/discussion/promotion/outreach. While there is some lip service paid to the idea of science outreach to the Canadian public, it is not a serious endeavour here. Even agencies that require a public outreach element for their grants don’t, to my knowledge, define the requirement let alone audit any of the activities. Of the outreach that does exist, much of it is oriented to children and teens.
Still, there are a few efforts oriented to adults such as CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Radio’s How To Think About Science (why didn’t they pick another title?) series that was originally broadcast as part of the longrunning Ideas programme.
There are 24 episodes available for listening here. Interview subjects include: Evelyn Fox Keller, Richard Lewontin, Ulrich Beck and Bruno Latour, and Ruth Hubbard. One caveat, the announcer and the interviewer have something I think of as ‘golf’ commentary syndrome’ (a tendency to over-enunciate and speak in tones usually reserved for the sacred and/or taboo).