Learning from discomfort - Science communication experiments between diffusion, dialogue and emergence

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Learning from discomfort - Science communication experiments between diffusion, dialogue and emergence

  1. 1. Learning from discomfort -Science communication experiments between diffusion, dialogue and emergence Developing Capacity in Multimodal Research, Community Engagement and Energy Demand Reduction Cardiff 4-5 July 2013 Maja Horst, University of Copenhagen
  2. 2. • Installations as experiments in dialogical and spatial research communication: • How do STS researchers take their own medicine about dialogue and engagement? • Collaboration with designer Birte Dalsgaard Making dialogue in practice? Science Society Science Society Credibility Truth/facts Model of Diffusion Model of Emergence Science Society Legitimacy Model of Dialogue
  3. 3. • Research communication which • Is dialogical and interactive rather than monological and based on ideas of diffusion • Communicates spatially to the senses rather than using only language • Combines cognitive and emotional influences • Communicates research based problems rather than ready-made packages of knowledge • Is integrated-in-research rather than add-on-to- research • Makes different reactions from the audience possible and respect these reactions as equal contributions to the communication Ambitions...
  4. 4. Learning... • Questions that arose • How to combine the roles of researcher and communicator? • What is the relationship between the act of designing an installation and the aim of dialogue? • What does it mean to enact dialogue? • How to interpret contributions from the audience? • In what way are the partners in dialogue equal? • Answers are pragmatic, context-specific and practical rather than abstract and theoretical
  5. 5. • A three dimensional gaming board, where the visitor became her own gaming piece (walking her choices) • 12 small rooms where stem cell research was contextualised in different ways • Each room confronting the visitor with dilemmas that they had to respond to in a physical way The first experiment The stem cell network: A social science lab
  6. 6. The spatial installation
  7. 7. The second experiment: Landscape of Expectations • Technological possibilities don’t fall from the sky. They are created within and shaped by social processes characterised by conflict, where you have the possibility of participating
  8. 8. Interior - from spectator to participant Interactive questionnaire Write arguments and see what others have written Seek additional knowledge
  9. 9. The conceptual content • Technology and research are shaped in social processes • Resources and legitimacy influences what becomes possible • People can participate if they choose to • Public opinion formation takes place in a context • Restrictions on what it is possible to say • Each intervention shapes the context for the next
  10. 10. Communicating through installations • diffusion vs dialogue • Deliberately designing the installation to convey particular stories (encoding) • Letting audiences interact and create sense of the installation in their own way (decoding) InstallationResearch group/ research community Audiences Closing down Opening up Dilemmas of simplification/validation Dilemmas of interpretation
  11. 11. Dilemmas of simplification/validation • To what and whom should this installation be accountable? • How to document outcome or ‘effect’, when the audience are intended to ‘experience’ rather than ‘understand’? • What is the genre of this installation? • What counts as a contribution? • How do we handle the wish to sanitize?
  12. 12. Dilemmas of interpretation • How are the contributions from the audiences interesting? • What if visitors don’t follow the rules? • Whose interpretation counts? • How to treat contributions from visitors symmetrically? • How to deal with a wish for more knowledge? • How does the objectives of the researcher differ from those of the audiences? ’Researchers Politicians Business Citizens’
  13. 13. Accounting for the unexpected
  14. 14. www.stamcellenetvaerket.dk Maja Horst horst@hum.ku.dk Conclusion • It is not a question of choosing between diffusion and dialogue – in the practice of science communication they are intimately linked • It is necessary to reflect about the uses of the audience – are they co-constructers of meaning or objects of our analysis? • Irritation, discomfort or fragility can be a very strong indication that there is something at stake • Doing engagement demands Care • Care for the audiences • Care for our own discomfort

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