In a highly competitive world with demographic growth and increasing mobility, human behaviour is changing. Even though the “issues of ‘Science in Society’ are not in themselves new” (Felt et al., 2013), behavioural changes will surely have an effect upon the interaction between science and society.
For rethinking the interaction of Science in Society, we might first focus on the narrow definitions of ‘science’ and ‘society’ and the assumption of a homogenous and stable relationship not particularly appropriate to the current changing world. Rather, seeing this relationship as a set of flexible and adaptive yet coherent systems might be helpful in order to maintain the link between knowledge generation shaping the world and public involvement in several contexts.
Science and society are not isolated, yet they are differentiated and self-organising. A second topic to discuss is, therefore, the ideal strategy for integrating scientific ideas into the social thinking, which by itself has many perspectives. On one hand, science communication programs usually point towards what it is supposed to be the need of knowledge and their tendency to focus on specific social stratums or focus groups (Short, 2013).
Regarding the means for communicating science, media forms are highly utilised. For instance, the making of science documentaries increased during the turn of the millennium and with this, questions about the aesthetics of the mixing of words, sounds and images applied to content. Representation of science has become contested (van Dijck, 2006) and media developers must attempt to convey moral, emotional and intellectual knowledge merging objective and subjective components (Daston & Galison, 1992). On the other hand, when it comes to in-person science communication, “performing arts can bring a human factor to science” [Marimon from The Big Van Theory in (Catanzaro, 2014)].
Then a new question emerges: is communicating science a matter of the social sciences or of the scientific community itself? The answer to that question is yet to be explored; however, integration of all possible features seems to be the key, and since communicating science is a multilayered process, the adaptations to the modern world would require the inclusion of all involved layers, such as plurality, academic and research institutions, spaces, beneficial outcomes, among others (Felt et al., 2013).
On the other hand and regarding the use of the human body and its expressions to communicate science, some interesting questions emerge. For instance, there is the Buddhist belief that humans are constantly changing in the stream of consciousness (Goldhill, 2015), meaning that there is a brain and body influx in which the human mind varies over time, which would mean that in order to communicate efficiently, individual changes should be also considered. Alan Alda says that “real listening is the willingness to let the other person change you” and that “the performance exists within you (in your eyes)”(Science and Communication: Alan Alda in Conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson, n.d.), such statements imply the integration of both the communicator and the person receiving the message (society, the public).
In conclusion, in a changing world where both science and society will never remain steady, Science Communication strategies must rely on the integration of all its contributing factors, from the inclusion of several societal features to the understanding of human behavioural patterns (such as empathy, visual perception) as a part of a two-way communicating process.
Final note: many thanks to Dr. Padraig Murphy for reviewing this little part of our research.
Catanzaro, M. (2014, July 23). Bringing Science to the Stage | Science | AAAS. Retrieved 9 November 2017, from http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2014/07/bringing-science-stage
Daston, L., & Galison, P. (1992). The Image of Objectivity. Representations, (40), 81–128. https://doi.org/10.2307/2928741
Felt, U., Barben, D., Irwin, A., Joly, P.-B., Rip, A., Stirling, A., & Stöckelova, T. (2013). Science in society: Caring for our Futures in Turbulent Times. (ESF Science Policy Briefing 50). Retrieved from https://asep.lib.cas.cz/arl-cav/en/detail-cav_un_epca-0425925-Science-in-society-Caring-for-our-Futures-in-Turbulent-Times-ESF-Science-Policy-Briefing-50/
Goldhill, O. (2015, September 20). Neuroscience backs up the Buddhist belief that “the self” isn’t constant, but ever-changing. Retrieved 9 November 2017, from https://qz.com/506229/neuroscience-backs-up-the-buddhist-belief-that-the-self-isnt-constant-but-ever-changing/
Science and Communication: Alan Alda in Conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/syIb73RQqVU
Short, D. (2013). The public understanding of science: 30 years of the Bodmer report. School Science Review, 95, 39–44.
Van Dijck, J. (2006). Picturizing science: The science documentary as multimedia spectacle. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 9(1), 5–24. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367877906061162