When: Monday 17th February, 2:00pm-3:30pm
This book charts the emergence of modern science communication internationally. The brief to authors was to describe how modern science communication has developed in each country and how government, science centres, the media, universities and the public have contributed.
The involvement of countries with little connection with PCST such as Malaysia, Jamaica, Ghana, Nigeria, Estonia, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Uganda, has been a feature, and an opportunity for them to be involved.
Some chapters deal with mature systems, others with post-colonial nation-building, while a third group of countries is just beginning the journey by looking at how science communication can improve health and agriculture systems.
Muslim countries (Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria, Malaysia) introduce an Islamic perspective. Ethics and religious consideration play an important role in science communication messages. “Muslims regard halal (permissibility) and haram (forbidden) seriously and products developed through S&T must adhere to principles of shariah (Islamic law).”Nigeria describes how a polio vaccination campaign was derailed, when the Supreme Council for Shari’ah declared that the vaccine contained anti-fertility substances and was part of a western conspiracy to sterilise Muslims.
Countries emerging from colonial rule or oppressive regimes describe high hopes for science in a newly independent life. Jamaica, Singapore, India, Pakistan, Iran, Ghana, Argentina and South Africa saw science as a pathway to social and economic advancement, and science communication as the way to switch the population on.
Russia embraced the challenge, with Argumenty i Fakty (‘Arguments and Facts’) entering the Guinness Book of Records in 1990 for the largest weekly newspaper circulation in human history, 33.5 million copies.
European accounts differ widely. Some have a rich culture of science communication, in others activity was delayed by totalitarian governments and economic challenges. The UK reports new eras and new fashions of science communication, concluding that ‘many old ideas were buried momentarily or continued as an undercurrent, less visible but ready to resurface as and when conditions allowed.’
The US describes a decentralised system, where ‘a broad array of historical forces and stakeholders have intervened, over the years, to produce … a vibrant (if jostling) set of opportunities to engage the public with science.’
Toss Gascoigne, Consultant, Self-employed