I have taught science communication at the University of Auckland, New Zealand for 24 years. Back in 1992, when I began teaching, science communication was a boutique, innovative course taught to a small number of students. Now science communication has become a popular subject for undergraduate students, focussing on important communication skills to round out a student’s science degree by teaching them how to communicate science with diverse audiences.
Academics from across science disciplines have also joined the call for scientists to engage in the wider dissemination of science. This is often undertaken to increase the public’s scientific literacy and enrich family dinner table conversations (if such conversations still exist). There is an underlying hope this will improve public understanding of science and maybe increase public support for scientific technologies and innovations. There is also a growing implicit and indeed sometimes an explicit objective to engage in science communication to stimulate the younger generation to enrol in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects at University. Any cause and effect relationship between this objective and any outcomes are, however, rather unknown.
The Soap Box is my blog where I write about and comment on science / society interactions, especially as they relate to environmental issues.