A word from the Editor on the special issue on ‘Public Engagement’
The journal starts another year of flourishing research into the Public Understanding of Science. We are now receiving in excess of 200 submissions per year which testifies to the level of productivity of the field globally. Many of these papers make it to final publication, but clearly quality varies and space is limited to about 70 papers per year; needless to say we have to select and make tough decisions, and our community of enthusiastic reviewers helps us to do that.
One of the key topics of PUS has been Public Engagement. Indeed, one could say that the field has moved from research into public understanding to research into public engagement. But the meaning of this transition is not unambiguous. The advantage of the newer term is that we must understand the public engagement of science in two ways: the ‘of’,objective genitive, refers to the public’s engagement with science, the global study of which continues to reveal the diverse relations that different sections of the modern public have with science. But the ‘of’ must also be read as the engagement of science with the public, subjective genitive, the proliferation of formats and forums for public participation in and deliberation of science and technology. As with any issue cycle, there is a risk of fatigue, but there is also the eminent need to look through the cycle and to consider the core issue in order to preserve it for future actions and discussions. Public engagement is clearly the fundamental issue of science communication and maybe of science policy in general, not something to be obscured with the comings and goings of academic buzzwords. Thus, we start 2014 with a Special Issue looking at 20 years of public engagement activities and research. These papers of hindsight and reflections on the future, gather key voices of the debate. This will serve the community and interested parties with a reminder of the core issue: how to be vigilant and to avoid the ever present temptation of a technocracy of the expert few.
- Published in Blog Article