Achieving public dialogue
There are a wide range of different interactions between ‘science and the public’. Examples range from visiting a museum, or indulging in a science-related hobby, to reading a newspaper article about a breakthrough in the technique of therapeutic cloning, to attending a protest meeting about plans to build a waste disposal unit near to a residential area. Some such interactions are largely one-way; being a member of the audience for a ‘go-hear’ lecture, visiting a museum or‘‘listening-in’ on the workings of a policy-making committee. However revealing an experience, such events very often the public as a largely passive recipient of information. This course looks at more active forms of involvement by the public; how is the public voice heard and understood? What is public involvement of this type for and is the outcome in some way ‘better’ than traditional methods of policy making?
Our interest therefore is with ‘two-way’ interactions – dialogues between science and some part of ‘the public’, particularly in the context of imminent policy making. Dialogue in this sense is closely allied to what is called public consultation. Indeed, a great many such terms (engagement is another) are used rather loosely to describe interactions of this type and there’ll be more to say about terminology later in the course.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Postgraduate study in.