The division of the chair’s research program into two research groups has been introduced following the organizational logic of the host institution, CREST, but it is also justified by the fact that the field of science communication has developed along two tracks. On the one hand research is oriented to more fundamental, theoretically complex issues, conceptual and empirical analyses which in most cases have indirect relevance for immediate practical uses although they are supposed to ultimately contribute to the improvement of policies and practice. On the other hand, a good part of science communication has become a practical endeavour oriented at enhancing the effectiveness of communication practices by scientists and scientific institutions. The pertinent research is supposed to contribute more immediately to the implementation of techniques and capacity building in the field. Both research groups are research oriented. Projects in the five focus areas can fall into either one of the research groups.
Research Group 1: Science communication theory
Science communication research deals with theoretical, conceptual and methodological issues referring to the perceptions of science in different populations, impacted by cultural and religious belief systems as well as sources of information, such as the mass media and digital communication channels. Other issues are the structure of the public discourse, the trust and distrust in scientific knowledge shaped by media and communication policies.
Research Group 2: Science communication practice
Science communication as a field of practice depends on the development of communication techniques to effectuate the communication of scientific content to a broader public or to special stakeholder groups. The survey and evaluation of science communication activities informs and improves policies. The development of science communication techniques serves to build capacity in the field.
- Perceptions and expectations of science among different parts of the SA population
- Mass media reporting of science as a source of public perceptions
- Science communication and social media
- Science communication and scientific advice for policymaking and specialized target groups
- Science communication by scientists and scientific organisations