On October 21, 40 members of the NCSCE community and partners convened at the headquarters of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for The Ecosystem of Science Communication: Communicating the Science Solution. The purpose of the meeting was to explore and understand the conflicts between scientific knowledge and personal or political identity, and how to successfully navigate these issues.
Following an introduction and welcome by NCSCE Executive Director Eliza Reilly, Elizabeth Bass, former Director of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, engaged the participants in a series of exercises designed to elucidate the importance of good science communication, as well as the difficulties scientists face in changing their communication behavior, and some best practices participants could use in improving their own science communication. As a follow-up to participants, she also invited our community to participate in this year’s Flame Challenge, a science communication contest held by the Alan Alda Center.[bctt tweet=”National meeting explores conflicts btwn scientific knowledge & identity #scicomm” username=”NCSCE”]
Tiffany Lohwater, Director of Meetings and Public Engagement and Deputy Chief Communications Officer at AAAS, spoke about the models for and challenges of orienting institutions toward better science communication. In addition to highlighting the direct public outreach efforts of AAAS, Tiffany discussed the work of the Leshner Leadership Fellows across the country in bringing about institutional change.
Laura Helft, Senior Manager for Public Outreach and Evaluation at Tangled Bank Studios, presented lessons about the ways in which media is used to communicate scientific facts. She used the examples of DNA mutations and vaccines to demonstrate how science media professionals tailor their messages to effectively reach different audiences such as classrooms and the general public.
The final presentation, by Dan Kahan of the Yale University Center for Cultural Cognition, focused on studies suggesting that people view many scientific issues through the lens of their own identities. However, he also showed a study suggesting that science curiosity, a randomly distributed variable among the population, transcends cultural bias, a hopeful conclusion for those in attendance.
The day’s events concluded with a poster session, where members of the community shared some of the work being done at their own institutions to better communicate science. More information about the meeting, including the program book, is available on the Ecosystem of Science Communication web page.