Anti-racist science communication starts with recognising its globally diverse historical footprint

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 professional helpmate 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.

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Scicom is much older, bigger and more diverse than the recent West

My latest paper, “Strategies for including communication of non-Western and indigenous knowledges in science communication histories”, was published in the Journal of Science Communication on April 2nd.

I’m yet to promote it more actively than tweeting the link but am proud of the altmetric score of 43 it has already gained (top 5%).

Prouder still that some amazing people have endorsed the paper on Twitter, including thought leaders in sci com, science equity and Indigenous science engagement:

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Science fiction as a potent policy tool

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.

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Tips for effective #scicomm

Lindy Orthia and Rachel Morgain

How do you get people to care about your science? Is anybody listening?

Science communication is more than great charisma or fun writing. Context matters. So we produced this infographic of 5 mnemonics to help.

If you want to know more about any of the 5, read on.

Click image to download or find it at slideshare here.

Orthia & Morgain Scicomm tool Continue reading