What is Science Communication?

“The consideration and communication of science between different community groups.”

Such a definition then encompasses a variety of interactions, such as scientists talking to other scientists about their research, and early career researchers talking to primary school students about why they fell in love with science.

Children explore science experiments at a fair

However, it also covers the communication of science by media outlets, for example using Twitter to talk about the latest wildlife documentary or the development of science policy to help build a climate change mitigation strategy.

MSc Science CommunicationsOur research

The origin of science communication

Science communication is not a new phenomenon. In the UK, the concept of scientists communicating their research findings to the public dates back at least as far as the early 19th century when scientists such as Michael Faraday spent a considerable amount of time and money trying to popularise science.

Black and white painting of Michael Faraday delivering a Christmas Lecture at the Royal Institution in 1856.

Michael Faraday delivering a Christmas Lecture at the Royal Institution in 1856.

Development of science communication

However, as an academic discipline science communication is a relatively new field, which in the UK has undergone three main stages:

In moving through these three stages, the principles of the communication of science have developed from primarily a deficit model - in which scientists try to ‘fill’ gaps in the knowledge of the public into one which encourages two-way dialogue between experts (scientists) and non-experts (the public).

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