Science Communication Observatory

Science Communication Observatory

The Science Communication Observatory ( [ OCC] ) is a Special Research Centre attached to the Department of Communication of the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona (Spain), set up in 1994. The centre is specialized in the study and analysis of the transmission of scientific, medical, environmental and technological knowledge to society. The journalist Vladimir de Semir [ [ "Between fast thinking and genuine culture"] Interview with V. de Semir in RTD Info - Magazine on European Research, November 2005] , associated professor of Science Journalism at the Pompeu Fabra University, was the funder and is the current director of the centre. A multidisciplinary team of researchers coming from different backgrounds (i.e. journalists, biologists, physicians, linguists, historians, etc.) is working on various lines of research: science communication; crisis communication; science communication and knowledge representation; journalism specialized in science and technology; discourse analysis; health and medicine in the daily press; relationships between science journals and mass media; history of science communication; public understanding of science; gender and science in the mass media, promotion of scientific vocations, etc.

PCST Network & Academy

The Science Communication Observatory is linked to the international network on Public Communication of Science & Technology ( [ PCST] ), which includes individuals from around the world who are active in producing and studying PCST through science journalism, science museums and science centers, academic researchers in social and experimental sciences, scientists who deal with the public, public information officers for scientific institutions and others related to science in society issues. The PCST Network sponsors international conferences, [ electronic discussions] , and other activities to foster dialogue among the different groups of people interested in PCST, leading to cross-fertilization across professional, cultural, international, and disciplinary boundaries. The PCST Network seeks to promote new ideas, methods, intellectual and practical questions and perspectives. [ [ The International Public Communication of Science and Technology Network] Pierre Fayard, Paola Catapano and Bruce Lewenstein, June 2004] The Science Communication Observatory hosts the PCST Academy. The [ PCST Academy] is responsible for the creation of the documentary basis of the Public Communication of Science and Technology network (PCST) and its main task is the selection and organized collection of articles, reports and resources on particular topics in the field of communication and social understanding of sciences. As stated by the Chair of the Network from 2004 to 2006, Vladimir de Semir, the Academy looks for the necessary resources at international level to guarantee the access to the network of representatives from those countries that currently have to face more difficulties: “The main aim is to represent and include the multiplicity of identities existing in the world, because the study and practice of science communication should respect the different cultural contexts and integrate the knowledge coming from all continents.”

Teaching, publishing and collaborative projects

The Science Communication Observatory runs a Master in Science, Medical and Environmental Communication in Barcelona (Spain) since 1995 and a Diploma in Science Communication in Buenos Aires (Argentina) since 2008 and other courses and workshops about science communication and the popularization of science. The Science Communication Observatory also publishes "Quark", [ a journal] ] about “Science, Medicine, Communication and Culture”, and also carries on researches and analysis in the Science in Society field, working with other academic groups on several European projects such as:

ESCITY - [ Europe, Science and the City: promoting scientific culture at local level] , an initiative to create the core of a network for the exchange of information and best practices in the area of promoting scientific culture, with two particular characteristics; focusing on local and regional action and emplacing strategies that situate the promotion of scientific culture under the umbrella of cultural policies.

ESConet - [ European Science Communication Network] , which brings together experienced science communication lecturers, researchers and practitioners from across Europe to train natural scientists and technologists to communicate effectively with the media, policy-makers and the general public. As well as delivering these core communication skills, ESConet workshops encourage scientists to reflect critically on the social, cultural, and ethical dimensions of their scientific work.

E-KNOWNET - [ A project] to develop an innovative and viable ICT-enabled mechanism for fast and efficient sharing of new knowledge among larger non-expert segments of society.

European Forum on Science Journalism

In December 2007, the Science Communication Observatory organized with the European Commission the European Forum on Science Journalism ( [ EFSJ] ) where leading science journalists and editors of national newspapers and specialised science publications from across Europe and the world met in Barcelona to discuss the challenges in reporting on science, the impact of new technologies on the profession and importance of linking science to society and everyday life together with leading scientists and top science communication professionals from across Europe, the US, Canada, China and Australia. An Special Eurobarometer on scientific research in the media and an European Guide to Science Journalism Training were presented in this forum.How to strengthen science coverage in the European press? How to convince editors to run science stories? How to assess the trustworthiness of scientific research? How to explain science in an understandable fashion? How to stimulate public interest in science news?... These were among the key questions addressed at the first European Forum on Science Journalism.

cientific Knowledge and Cultural Diversity

The Science Communication Observatory was responsible of the organization of the [ 8th International Conference of the PCST Network] in Barcelona (Spain), June 2004. The main theme of the conference was "Scientific Knowledge and Cultural Diversity" which opened up a field to debate on the global discourse of science in a range of local culture and knowledge environments. When talking about various cultures we are referring to the different groups sharing the same language, same traditions, ideology or religion, inhabiting in a specific geographical environment, having the same job, or being a man or a woman, a young, a child, an elder… All this rich cultural diversity also reflects its stamp on scientific knowledge, in its creation and application as well as in the whole process of public communication of science and technology.The main theme of "Scientific Knowledge and Cultural Diversity", included 3 subthemes or discussion subjects.

Native Knowledge & Modern ScienceCultural diversity. Traditional knowledge. Local wisdom. Regional identity and globalization. Indigenous knowledge system. Citizenship participation on scientific decisions. Popular culture and scientific culture. Possibilities of native knowledge facing with new technologies. Science ethics and believes. Religion or morality influence in knowledge construction. Cohabitation between medicines with different evaluation systems. Knowledge, religion and beliefs. Parasciences. Science as a universal knowledge Intellectual property. Gender and cultural approach. New models, trends and concepts in PCST.

Science Communication: Historical Perspectives And New TrendsInfluences of historical processes on science communication. The greatest science communicators. The role of the mass media. The role of science centres and museums. Main initiatives in the promotion of scientific culture. Results analysis methodology. International networks. New models, trends and concepts in PCST.

Science Communication & Social ParticipationPeripheral science and science in the outskirts. Science culture and cooperation with illiterate population and marginal groups. Social inclusion. Public engagement with science policy (consensus conferences, citizen juries, deliberative polling). Science vocations in the changing world. Media impact on science opinion. Science festivals. Ethics of science communication. Public policies in scientific culture. Citizen participation on scientific decisions. Informal science education. Science centers and museums. Science communication training. New models, trends and concepts in PCST.


External links

* [ Special Eurobarometer on scientific research in the media] - December 2007
* [ European Guide to Science Journalism Training] - Second Edition, August 2008
* [ Proceedings of the 8th International PCST Conference] - June 2004

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