LSC’s Dietram Scheufele co-edits handbook on the science of science communication

Friday June 16th, the Oxford University Press released The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication. The book, co-edited by LSC professor Dietram Scheufele, Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dan Kahan of Yale Law School, provides a comprehensive overview of the current issues and challenges facing science communication.

Dietram holds a copy of The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication at the Oxford University Press book display at ICA’s annual conference.

The handbook features essays from the leading scholars in science communication including LSC professor and chair Dominique Brossard and LSC faculty affiliate Michael Xenos. Many LSC alumni also contributed including Heather Akin (who will be an assistant professor at the University of Missouri this fall), Nan Li of Texas Tech University, and Sara K. Yeo of the University of Utah.

“For a long time, the scientific community has relied on intuition rather than empirical data when it came to communicating the value of science to different political and public audiences,” says Scheufele.  “The handbook brings together some of the very best social scientists whose work helps us approach science communication from a truly scientific perspective.”

The handbook provides case studies of past science communication successes and failures, and identifies human biases that often affect the ways in which scientific information is processed.  In addition, the book takes the next step and provides ways to overcome biases – such as selective exposure, motivated reasoning and the availability heuristic – and discusses how these biases are exacerbated by the changing media environment.

More information and purchase information is available at the Oxford University Press.

LSC’s Dietram Scheufele contributes to NASEM human gene editing report

Life Sciences Communication professor Dietram Scheufele served on the international committee examining the implications of human gene editing, and their report titled “Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance” was released today, February 14, 2017.

Human gene editing is not a new concept, however, with the emergence of CRISPR-Cas9, scientists are able to alter genes more efficiently and precisely than before.  In 2015, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine convened a consensus committee to better understand the clinical, ethical, legal, and social implications of this technology.

A subset of the human gene editing committee met with Rep. Bill foster (IL-11th District) on Monday February 13th to brief him on the report.

The international committee featured experts in science, law, political science, and industry from around the globe, including Scheufele and UW-Madison law and bioethics professor R. Alto Charo who co-chaired the panel.

Many of the questions posed to the panel were inevitably linked to science communication and Scheufele, who publishes extensively on public opinion of emerging technologies, was able to provide expertise to this multidisciplinary group.

According to the NASEM, “[the report] considers important questions about the human application of genome editing including: balancing potential benefits with unintended risks, governing the use of genome editing, incorporating societal values into clinical applications and policy decisions, and respecting the inevitable differences across nations and cultures that will shape how and whether to use these new technologies.”  Among the report’s contributions, it recommends criteria for germline editing, outlines the critical need for public engagement, and proposes seven general principles for the governance of human gene editing across the globe.

For more information on the report, see the following story by University Communications. Keep up with the discussion on Twitter at #GeneEditStudy.  The full report is available for download via the NASEM website.

Story adapted from University Communications.

LSC professor Dietram Scheufele awarded National Science Foundation grant to help develop innovative approaches for science learning

LSC professor Dietram Scheufele is part of a team of researchers and museums awarded a National Science Foundation grant to develop and test innovative approaches to communicating chemistry in informal science learning environments. The grant, which has a total award of $2,634,708, is titled “ChemAttitudes: Using Design-Based Research to Develop and Disseminate Strategies and Materials to Support Chemistry Interest, Relevance, and Self-Efficacy.”  Scheufele will serve as the principle investigator for the Wisconsin component of the grant and Scheufele’s advisee Emily Howell, a doctoral student in the Nelson Institute and member of LSC’s SCIMEP research group, will serve as project assistant.

nsf-logoThe grant is led by the Museum of Science in Boston and is a unique collaboration between science museums and research leaders in the field of science communication. Chemistry is present almost everywhere in our lives, and many people are also fearful of “chemicals” in their food or the environment.  So far, however, chemistry is a field that is underrepresented in science museums and other science outreach activities.
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LSC professor Dietram Scheufele helps outline the future of science communication research in NASEM report

The Department of Life Sciences Communication has long been a strong contributor to the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. That relationship continued when LSC professor Dietram Scheufele was asked by the National Research Council to serve as the vice chair for NASEM’s ‘Science of Science Communication’ committee.  The committee’s report titled, “Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda” was released today.

communicating-science-effectivelyThe panel brought together a diverse group of scientists and science communicators with the goal of creating a report to help guide research on how to communicate about controversial science effectively.

The report includes an analysis of what is currently known about effective modes of communication, an overview of the major challenges for science communication, and outlines areas for future research to promote more effective communication.
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