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Public awareness of science

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Title: Public awareness of science  
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Subject: Public Understanding of Science, Science outreach, Sense About Science, Science journalism, Popular science
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Public awareness of science

Public awareness of science (PAwS), public understanding of science (PUS), or more recently, Public Engagement with Science and Technology are terms relating to the attitudes, behaviours, opinions, and activities that comprise the relations between the general public or lay society as a whole to scientific knowledge and organisation.

It is a comparatively new approach to the task of exploring the multitude of relations and linkages science, technology, and innovation have among the general public. While earlier work in the discipline had focused on augmenting public knowledge of scientific topics, in line with the information deficit model of science communication, the discrediting of the model has led to an increased emphasis on how the public chooses to use scientific knowledge and on the development of interfaces to mediate between expert and lay understandings of an issue. The area integrates a series of other fields, such as:

How to raise public awareness and public understanding of science and technology, and how the public feels and knows about science in general, and specific subjects, such as genetic engineering, bioethics, etc., are important lines of research in this area.


  • The Bodmer Report 1
  • Project examples 2
  • Further reading 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

The Bodmer Report

The publication of the Royal Society's' report The Public Understanding of Science[1] (or Bodmer Report) in 1985 is widely held to be the birth of the Public Understanding of Science movement in Britain.[2] The report led to the foundation of the Committee on the Public Understanding of Science and a cultural change in the attitude of scientists to outreach activities.[3]

Project examples

Government- and private-led campaigns and events, such as Dana Foundation's "Brain Awareness Week," are becoming a strong focus of programmes which try to promote public awareness of science.

The UK PAWS Foundation dramatically went as far as establishing a Drama Fund with the BBC in 1994. The purpose was to encourage and support the creation of new drama for television, drawing on the world of science and technology.[4]

The Vega Science Trust[5] was set up in 1994 to promote science through the media of television and the internet with the aim of giving scientists a platform from which to communicate to the general public.

The Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science chair at The University of Oxford was established in 1995 for the ethologist Richard Dawkins[6] by an endowment from Charles Simonyi. Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy has held the chair since Dawkins' retirement in 2008.[7] Similar professorships have since been created at other British universities. Professorships in the field have been held by well-known academics including Richard Fortey and Kathy Sykes at the University of Bristol, Brian Cox at Manchester University, Tanya Byron at Edge Hill University, Jim Al-Khalili at the University of Surrey and Alice Roberts at the University of Birmingham.

Further reading

  • Gregory, Jane & Miller, Steve (1998); Science in Public: Communication, Culture & Credibility (Cambridge, Massachusetts USA: Perseus Publishing)
  • Vega Science Trust - Over 90 free-view science programmes including lectures, discussions, interviews with eminent scientists, careers programmes, workshops and teaching resources.
  • The Royal Academy of Science's 2006 "Factors affecting science communication: a survey of scientists and engineers" report.
  • Specialist journal Public Understanding of Science
  • Southwell, Brian G. (2013). "Social Networks and Popular Understanding of Science and Health". Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Southwell, Brian G., & Torres, Alicia. (2006). Connecting interpersonal and mass communication: Science news exposure, perceived ability to understand science, and conversation. Communication Monographs, 73(3), 334-350.
  • Varughese, Shiju Sam (2012). Where are the missing masses? The Quasi-publics and Non-publics of Technoscience, Minerva, 50 (2), 239-254.

See also


  1. ^ The Royal Society. "The Public Understanding of Science". The Royal Society. Retrieved 11 October 2015. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "House of Lords - Science and Technology - Third Report". 
  4. ^ "PAWS off science? - Abstract - Physics Education - IOPscience". 
  5. ^ "The Vega Science Trust - Science Video - Homepage". 
  6. ^ "Professor Richard Dawkins - The Simonyi Professorship". 
  7. ^ "Professor Marcus du Sautoy - The Simonyi Professorship". 

External links

  • Open Directory:Scientific communication.
  • Science communication, syndicated content.
  • History of Science Communication and the Public
  • Descarter Prizes and other prizes for science communication in European Union.
  • Australian Centre for the Public Awareness of Science.
  • Graduate Diploma in Science Communication.
  • SciNotes.
  • An e-Guide to science communication.
  • Science and Communication: An Author/Editor/User's Perspective on the Transition from Paper to Electronic Publishing.
  • science communication and research office SCRO
  • Graphic Science.
  • VKJ, Jeevan (2008). "NISCAIR ONLINE PERIODICALS REPOSITORY (NOPR) : Science awareness through public libraries in India". Retrieved June 16, 2015. 
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