Want to know what I’ve published lately? Here are my publications from the past two years – papers, chapters, commentaries, blog posts, interviews, a book and a webinar, all in one convenient lump.
Finlay S.M., Raman S., Rasekoala E., Mignan V., Dawson E., Neeley L. & Orthia L.A. (2021) From the margins to the mainstream: deconstructing science communication as a white, Western paradigm. ‘Neglected Spaces in Science Communication’ commentary series, Journal of Science Communication 20(01): C02. https://doi.org/10.22323/2.20010302
Roberson T. & Orthia L.A. (2021) Queer world-making: A need for integrated intersectionality in science communication. ‘Neglected Spaces in Science Communication’ commentary series, Journal of Science Communication 20(01): C05. https://doi.org/10.22323/2.20010305
Orthia L.A. (2020) Strategies for including communication of non-Western and indigenous knowledges in science communication histories. Journal of Science Communication. 19(02): A02. https://doi.org/10.22323/2.19020202
Orthia L.A. (2019) How does science fiction television shape fans’ relationships to science? Results from a survey of 575 Doctor Whoviewers. Journal of Science Communication, 18(04): A08. https://doi.org/10.22323/2.18040208
Science Communication is often presented as a unique response to and offshoot of the prevalence of western science in modern societies.Lindy Orthia and Elizabeth Rasekoala argue against this notion, suggesting that a temporally and culturally limited understanding of science communication, in turn promotes a limited discipline of science communication and serves to perpetuate a singular idea of how and for whom science is communicated.
How old is science communication?
If you’ve been reading science communication history you’d probably say a few decades as an academic discipline, and two to four centuries as a professionalhelpmate to institutionalised science.
Yet human beings have been communicating science for millennia. They have been crafting words to communicate their knowledge for particular audiences, aims, mediums and contexts, in such a way that others enjoy it, remember it and can reproduce it themselves, much like science communication professionals today.
Just published: my latest journal paper, in the Journal of Science Communication, reporting the first results of a survey of 575 Doctor Who fans about the show’s impact on their relationship to science.
Punchline: some viewers were inspired to pursue science careers because of Doctor Who, while for others it contributed to their ideas about science ethics, the place of science in society, and more. But it varied, a lot.
Like it or not, popular fiction shapes policy debates
In 2017, Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel proposed all leaders be required to read science fiction to help them understand the past and future of science and technology as well as how new innovations might affect human society.
Similarly, in 2015, his predecessor Ian Chubb said science teachers could learn a thing or two from the television sitcom The Big Bang Theory about making science fun.
This isn’t just Australian contrarianism. Britain’s former science minister Malcolm Wicks suggested in 2007 that teachers use scenes from Doctor Who and Star Wars to kickstart discussion in science classrooms.
Today I published in Minerva a review paper examining the reception of a classic 1993 history of science paper by Andrew Cunningham and Perry Williams that proposed a new big picture of the history of science to replace the prevailing ‘Scientific Revolution’-based big picture.
Cunningham and Williams proposed instead that ‘science’ (read modern, western science) was invented in the late 18th/early 19th century in an institutional and ideological sense. And therefore science is only modern and western, and needs to be de-centred within our big picture conceptions of the history of human knowledge-making, and seen more on a par with every other knowledge-making system across the world and through time.
I have been enamoured of their paper since I read it, and wanted to find out if other scholars have accepted, rejected or ignored it in the 20 years since they published it. In other words, should I take it seriously?
In a new paper I co-authored with my PhD student Rashel Li, we show that viewers of The Big Bang Theory learn about aspects of the nature of science from the sitcom. The paper was published in the International Journal of Science Education Part B, and was based on data from Rashel’s PhD research. Continue reading →