771   Roundtable discussion

Science communication for social change: What does STS have to offer?

Over the past decades Science and Technology Studies (STS) has had an important, though contested, impact on science communication research and practice. Concepts such as the ‘deficit model’, public engagement, or co-production (Irwin & Wynne 1996; Jasanoff 2004; Wilsdon & Willis 2004) have been developed by STS researchers and taken up within science communication, substantially shaping the ideas and norms of the field. At the same time, STS interactions with practice and practitioners in communication and policy have often been uncomfortable or fraught with misunderstanding (see, e.g., Balmer et al 2015).

In this roundtable we wish to open up a discussion as to what, specifically, STS can offer science communication teaching, research, and practice. Our aim is to explore how STS knowledge can be productively mobilised to improve science communication – that is, to help work towards science communication that actively aims for and helps achieve positive social change. Three short presentations will relate how the speakers use STS ideas in their science communication oriented research (Felt), teaching (Smallman), and public and policy engagement activities (Salmon). The emphasis will be on the value of (particular) aspects of STS in specific contexts, and on how these aspects can be put to work in practice. The session will then open up to a moderated discussion involving everyone present, examining such questions as: what are the most productive and useful strands of STS work for science communication? What can engaging with STS scholarship look and feel like? And where are STS ideas currently under-utilised, within the context of promoting science communication for social change?

Author: Sarah Davies
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Speaker: Melanie Smallman
University College London, United Kingdom

Melanie Smallman will talk about how STS concepts can enhance science communication teaching. Drawing on her experience of teaching science communication, public engagement and RRI to science and engineering students, she will describe how she has used the critical perspectives developed in STS to help students develop their own tools to help understand and incorporate public concerns and values into their communication work and scientific practice.

Speaker: Ulrike Felt
University of Vienna, Austria

Ulrike Felt will engage specifically with how concepts and approaches developed in STS and beyond can support researchers in finding ways to engage with and communicate their work practices, concerns and visions of technoscientific development. Using examples from fieldwork and teaching contexts, she will point to the importance of developing sensitivities to how values come to matter in practices of research and how they shape and are shaped by the spatio-temporal setting in which both science and science communication happen.

Speaker: Rhian Salmon
Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand

Rhian Salmon is a co-founder of the Centre for Science in Society at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, Aoteraroa New Zealand. Practitioner turned scholar, Salmon explores the ways in which STS and PES theory can be realised or explored in science communication projects ranging from local and student-level projects, through to regional events and major national research programmes. In doing this work, she has become particularly interested in the tension between a desire - and sometimes even a mandate - for 'genuine engagement' and 'coproduction' versus the expectations, assumptions and understandings of what such engagement should look and feel like by the scientific community who commission this work. Her work contributes to bridging this gap between theory and practice by both underpinning practical engagement activities with STS theories, as well as engaging the research community about inherent challenges for practitioners in utilising STS theory.

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