Monday, 16 February 2009

What's the role for science communicators in dialogue?

The big unasked question for me is what's the role for science communicators in the context of dialogue?

For the last 10 years we've talked about two-way not one-way, dialgoue not deficit but have we talked ourselves out of jobs in the process? Many of the projects funded by the Sciencewise programme have been led by 'dialogue professionals' in more market- or social- research based organisations. While museums, journalists, web designers and other comms folk have been involved, it has been as partners.

Of course helping participants understand the science their debating and publicising the findings of participation projects is an important role, but is that the sum total of our contribution? What else could we and should we be doing?

Projects like Small Talk have shown that science communicators can lead meaningful public dialgoues and reach much bigger numbers than other processes. Is this a possible future role for us ? Or is there a case for good science communication that we need to shout more about? And more importantly, how are we going to fund it?

Perhaps ,as the line between communication and dialogue blurs more and more online, this line of questioning is increasingly artificial. What do you think?

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