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Science Communication and Public Engagement:
Major Models and Approaches

Matthew C. Nisbet
Associate Professor
School of ...
The Popularization and Dissemination Model
 Engages a core audience of science
enthusiasts who can comment, share, and
re...
Popularization & The Cycle of Hype

 Emphasis by funding agencies on broader
impacts puts pressure on scientists and
inst...
More Scientific Knowledge = More Disagreement?

@MCNisbet
More Carl Sagans?
Social Identity and Communication

@MCNisbet
Scientists’ Faulty Intuition:
Shared Identity, Information Sources & Assumptions

@MCNisbet
The Strategic Communication Model
Messaging By Audience Segment and By Way of Opinion Leaders

@MCNisbet
Audience Segmentation, Framing & Opinion Leaders:
Climate Change and Biomedical Research

@MCNisbet
Strategic Communication Campaigns:
Frictions and Trade-Offs
 Raises questions about conflict of interest and
manipulation...
Public Engagement and Dialogue Model:
Deliberative Forums, Public Meetings, Digital News Forums
Seeks to “democratize” th...
Worldwide Views on Biodiversity

@MCNisbet
Stakeholder Driven Science and Lay Expertise Model

Research that effectively addresses the needs of
society requires “co...
www.ClimateShiftProject.org/NASInterface

@MCNisbet
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Draft slides for Dec. 8 presentation as part of the National Academies Roundtable on Public Interfaces in the Life Sciences. bit.ly/1fYaBTc #NASInterface

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Nisbet nas interface_draft

  1. 1. Science Communication and Public Engagement: Major Models and Approaches Matthew C. Nisbet Associate Professor School of Communication American University Washington D.C. Sustainable Infrastructures for Life Science Communication National Academies, Washington DC 12.09.13 www.climateshiftproject.org/NASinterface @MCNisbet #NASInterface
  2. 2. The Popularization and Dissemination Model  Engages a core audience of science enthusiasts who can comment, share, and repurpose.  Can reach through incidental exposure nonattentive, broader publics.  Can shape the decisions and thinking of policymakers, journalists and funders.  For scientists, can build personal brand, increase citation impact, influence scientific peers, and develop skills and experience. @MCNisbet
  3. 3. Popularization & The Cycle of Hype  Emphasis by funding agencies on broader impacts puts pressure on scientists and institutions to “oversell” their findings.  Media coverage emphasizes near term societal benefits and market development with less emphasis on uncertainty and possible risks.  Hype risks credibility and trust in science and may undermine ability to do basic research.  Increasingly defines science and higher education in terms of economic development and job growth. @MCNisbet
  4. 4. More Scientific Knowledge = More Disagreement? @MCNisbet
  5. 5. More Carl Sagans? Social Identity and Communication @MCNisbet
  6. 6. Scientists’ Faulty Intuition: Shared Identity, Information Sources & Assumptions @MCNisbet
  7. 7. The Strategic Communication Model Messaging By Audience Segment and By Way of Opinion Leaders @MCNisbet
  8. 8. Audience Segmentation, Framing & Opinion Leaders: Climate Change and Biomedical Research @MCNisbet
  9. 9. Strategic Communication Campaigns: Frictions and Trade-Offs  Raises questions about conflict of interest and manipulation.  Difficulty coordinating message strategy across groups and organizations.  Often serves to increase polarization and divisions. Increased targeting = increased echo chambers.  Does strategic communication lead to effective policy?  Under what conditions does broader public matter to policymaking?  Defines public as spectators, consumers or voters but not as active participants in decisions. @MCNisbet
  10. 10. Public Engagement and Dialogue Model: Deliberative Forums, Public Meetings, Digital News Forums Seeks to “democratize” the governance of science and technology.  Can enhance civic capacity of regions, creating opportunities to debate and collaborate. Can increase participant trust and knowledge, soften group differences and polarization. Informs policy options, adapts knowledge to localized contexts or specialized cases. Questions regarding representativeness and reach, giving visibility to minority views, or criticized as just another “public relations” strategy. @MCNisbet
  11. 11. Worldwide Views on Biodiversity @MCNisbet
  12. 12. Stakeholder Driven Science and Lay Expertise Model Research that effectively addresses the needs of society requires “co-production” with public. Emphasis on research that is useable, problem solving and socially acceptable; aligning research efforts with national, state or local needs. Promotes enhanced trust, appreciation and support for research institution among public, stakeholders and policymakers. Can be time consuming, resource intensive, “messy,” does not fit easily with traditional collaboration, publication and credit model. @MCNisbet
  13. 13. www.ClimateShiftProject.org/NASInterface @MCNisbet

Draft slides for Dec. 8 presentation as part of the National Academies Roundtable on Public Interfaces in the Life Sciences. bit.ly/1fYaBTc #NASInterface

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