Each Friday during the semester a group gathers in Hiram Smith Hall to discuss ongoing research projects, many lead by graduate students, surrounding public opinion on controversial science issues. The group is the Science, Media & the Public (SciMep) research group which explores issues relating to the social, legal, and ethical implications of scientific issues and emerging technologies.
The group is housed in Life Sciences Communication and the principle investigators include LSC chair Dominique Brossard, LSC professors Dietram Scheufele, and Neil Stenhouse, and chair of the Department of Communication Arts and LSC faculty affiliate Michael Xenos. In addition, graduate students from different departments, including LSC, the Department of Communication Arts and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, participate.
The group’s focus is unique. According to LSC chair Dominque Brossard, “SciMep is one of the only research groups looking into these types of issues. We are in an era of rapid technological change and media convergence, so it is important to look at the intersection of science, media and public opinion. Many of scientific issues we talk about are complex and they don’t happen in a vacuum. The public is an integral part of the conversation, whether they know it or not.”