How to engage and educate the global public with science?
Massive science communication projects should be based on strong and relevant science cases. They should engage with a large number of stakeholders, not only in research, academia, policy, funding and governance but also in less traditional communities, such as the arts field. This is the outcome of the PhD research by Pedro Russo.
Astronomy as a case study
Pedro used astronomy as a case study to consider the effect and impact of transnational collaborations with innovative approaches and centralised coordination in science education and public outreach. His study is based on eight years of designing, implementing and evaluating transnational collaborative programmes in astronomy education and public outreach, from the perspective of the practitioner.
The establishment of a centralised coordination body is essential to design, implement, manage and evaluate massive science communication projects (MSCP’s) as well as coordinate volunteers.
This centralised coordination body should establish a framework that can be standardised globally to gain economies of scale and scope, but should also be localised to meet local requirements and needs. Planning, including evaluation, should start as soon as the concept for the MSCP is developed.
Include evaluation experts
Experts in the evaluation of science communication programmes should be included in the global coordination team from the start and provide input to the MSCPs. New sources of funding also need to be sought such as crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding campaigns should aim to build awareness among the public, as well as to raise funds.
An additional aspect of the astronomy as a case study project, Universe Awareness, has been the development of a robust framework for the relevant educational resources that incorporates peer review of both scientific accuracy and educational quality. The principles described above can usefully be extended from astronomy to other scientific disciplines.
After his PhD defence Pedro will keep working at the Leiden Observatory: ‘My projects will always be about explaining the interest and value of science to our fellow inhabitants of the world’